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Asian shares down in morning session with holidays on the way

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Investing.com -

Investing.com - Asian shares fell in morning trade in a holiday thinned week Japan shut Tuesday for Showa Day, and most of Asia at home Thursday for Labor Day.

The Nikkei 225 lost 1.15% as the yen strengthened after data showed March retail sales rose 11% year-on-year, in line with expectations and the eighth straight annual rise. Sales have been boosted by buying ahead of an increase in the sales tax to 8% from 5% , effective April 1.

The Shanghai Composite was down 1.23% and the Hang Seng index fell 0.39%.

In coporate news, Pacific Equity Partners is re-listing Spotless Group through an initial public offering worth around 1 billion Australian dollars (U.S.$928 million) less than two years after it took the Australian cleaning-and-catering company private.

New shares in Spotless will be issued at between A$1.60 and A$1.85 each and represent about 51% of total shares on issue, Spotless said in a statement Monday. The balance will be held by funds advised by Pacific Equity Partners and Spotless management.

The Australian private equity company bought Spotless for A$724 million in August, 2012. The IPO is scheduled to take place on May 20 and May 21.

U.S. stocks slid last week with the Dow 30 down 0.85%, the S&P 500 index off 0.81%, while the NASDAQ Composite Composite index fell 1.75%.

Tensions in Ukraine continue to roil markets after Ukrainian troops killed several pro-Russian rebels on Thursday.

Russian troops, meanwhile, conducted military drills close to the border between the two countries, which frayed nerves even more.

In response, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was moving closer to slapping fresh sanctions on Moscow, which steered investors away from stocks and into safe-haven positions, the yen and gold especially.

Russia is the world's second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, and a halt in oil and gas exports to Europe could bruise the U.S., as many U.S. companies depend on Europe for healthy chunks of revenue.

Data out of the U.S. failed to offset geopolitical tensions in equities markets.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final April consumer sentiment index came in at 84.1, beating market expectations for a 83.0 reading. April's preliminary reading was 82.6.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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