ASIA MARKETS: Australia, Japan Lead Asian Market Decliners

By Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Stocks in Shanghai, Hong Kong advance

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Stocks started the week modestly lower in Asia, following some sizable declines worldwide at the end of last week.

Friday's removal of chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, while not a surprise to markets, turned the spotlight back on concerns about the Trump administration's ability to advance its agenda.

"It does highlight the political turmoil that President Donald Trump is facing," said Jingyi Pan, a market analyst at IG Group. "For the markets...it leaves a lingering concern about U.S. policy."

Still, some say the three-day Jackson Hole gathering hosted by the Federal Reserve, starting Thursday, bring investor focus back to fundamentals.

Australia stocks fell, with the S&P/ASX 200 ending down 0.4% amid drops for the country's big four banks, which make up more than a quarter of the index's weighting. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AU) declined 0.9%.

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The Nikkei in Japan fell 0.4%, with financial and export-dependant stocks like Nomura Holdings (8604.TO) and Sony (6758.TO) each losing more than 1%.

Weakness in both markets came despite strength in energy stocks after oil prices rebounded 3% Friday. Australia's Santos (SSLTY) rose 1.2% and Japan's Inpex (1605.TO) added 1.5%. Crude futures were flat early Monday in Asia.

Chinese stocks, which outperformed Friday as the Shanghai Composite bucked regional declines, rose by 0.6% Monday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index closed up 0.4%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 21, 2017 07:11 ET (11:11 GMT)