Asian share markets mostly lower as Ukraine tension weighs, Nikkei up

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Investing.com - Asian share markets mostly fell on Friday on concerns over heightened tension in the Ukraine, while Japanese stocks moved higher

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 0.7% and South Korea's KOSPI lost 0.6% after tensions in Ukraine came to the fore again.

In other markets, the Shanghai Composite was 0.17% lower, while Australia's market was closed for a public holiday. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.63%.

Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914.TOK) rose by 1.3% after the company reported that its revenue rose by 21.1% in the January to March quarter, which helped offset a corporate tax driven fall in its net profit.

At the end of a week shortened in a number of markets by holidays, the best performer was Australia which had gained 1.4% since the end of last week. Japanese stocks were down 0.9% week-to-date and the Shanghai Composite Index was 1.9% lower.

Overnight, U.S. stocks finished largely higher on solid U.S. durable goods data with the Dow 30 was unchanged, the S&P 500 index rose 0.17%, while the NASDAQ Composite Composite index rose 0.52%.

Ukraine military forces killed five separatists earlier, while Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Kiev against stepping up its offensive against the rebels, sparking fears the U.S. and its European allies will slap fresh sanctions on Moscow and turn the standoff up a notch.

Geopolitical tensions took the luster out of positive U.S. data and Apple earnings, sending investors chasing safe-haven positions outside of equities markets.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. orders for durable goods rose 2.6% in March, beating expectations for a 2% gain.

Core durable goods orders, which exclude volatile transportation items, rose 2% last month, far outpacing forecasts for a 0.6% gain.

Separately, the Labor Department said the number of individuals who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. in the week ending April 19 rose by 24,000 to 329,000. Analysts had expected an increase of 5,000.

Despite the increase, underlying trends still point to recovery in the labor market, which supported stocks on sentiments that a more robust U.S. economy down the road will improve corporate fundamentals.

After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.28%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.64%, while Germany's DAX rose 0.05%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 rose 0.42%.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with revised data on consumer sentiment.

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