Asian markets tumble as Russia sanctions loom

Guy Bentley
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Asian markets are in retreat after a lacklustre performance on Wall Street and western nations prepare to impose further on sanctions on Russia in wake of heightened tensions in Ukraine.

Representatives from all 28 EU member states will meet today to impose travel restrictions and asset freezes on a further 15 influential Russians, according to reports from Bloomberg.

With no signs of the crisis winding down, market volatility is expected to continue for some time.

Japan's third-largest car maker Honda took a hit after forecasting net profit for the year to March 2015 of 3.6 per cent, missing analysts' estimates. The country saw retail sales surge month-on-month in March by 6.3 per cent. The jump was largely expected ahead of April's consumption tax hike.

However, sales this month are very likely to fall. London-based consultancy Capital Economics commented:

If the experience from the last increase in the tax in 1997 is any guide, we wouldn't be surprised to see a 10 per cent fall or even more.

South Korean Premier Chung Hong Won has resigned over the government's conduct over the ‘Sewol’ ferry sinking. He will remain in office until the government's response has concluded, according to spokesman Min Kyung Wook.

Japan's Nikkei is down 1.2 per cent, with the Topix also suffering falls of one per cent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index has declined 0.4 per cent, while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is down 1.2 per cent. South Korea's Kospi has made gains of 0.2 per cent so far.