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Asian Markets Mixed; Samsung Shares Plunge on KOSPI as News of VP Jailed Hits Markets

Shares of firms related to South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group plunged in Monday trade after Reuters reported that Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee has received a 2-1/2-year jail term.

Industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics plunged more than 4% in Monday trade before clawing back from some of those losses, finishing their trading day 3.41% lower. Samsung C&T dived 6.84% while Samsung Heavy Industries declined 2.74%. The Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds, according to Reuters.

The broader Kospi index in South Korea led losses among the region’s major markets as it dropped 2.33% to close at 3,013.93.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday as investors in the region reacted to Chinese economic data, including the country’s GDP print for the fourth quarter.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.84% to 3,596.22 while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.58% to 15,269.27. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 0.87%, as of its final hour of trading.

China reported its GDP rose 2.3% last year as the world fought to contain the coronavirus pandemic. That compared against economists expectations for GDP expansion by just over 2%. Still, retail sales in the country declined, contracting 3.9% for the year.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.97% to close at 28,242.21 while the Topix index slipped 0.6% to finish its trading day at 1,845.49.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.78% on the day to 6,663.

Singapore’s Straits Times index in the country dipped 0.69%, as of around 3:41 p.m. local time. Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports grew 6.8% on a year-on-year basis in December, according to data released Monday. That was above a forecast by economists for a 0.3% increase, according to Reuters.

India’s Nifty 50 traded 0.86% lower in the afternoon. Reuters reported that India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive was hit by delays as a result of glitches in an app used to coordinate the campaign, citing officials in some states.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan dipped 0.31%.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the Trump administration notified several suppliers to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei — including chipmaker Intel — that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese firm. That comes just days ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

Markets in the U.S. are closed on Monday for a holiday.
Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.806 after seeing levels below 90.3 recently.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.73 per dollar, stronger than levels above 104.1 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7679 following a slide late last week from levels above $0.775.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.45% to $54.85 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.31% to $52.20 per barrel.