Japan's Nikkei led the losses with fall of 0.3 percent, sliding to
one-month low while U.S. stock futures fell as much as 0.5 percent
to three-week low at one point.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
<.MIAPJ0000PUS> dipped 0.1 percent to stay near Friday's one-month
low, after slumping 2.9 percent last week, its biggest fall in more
than six months.
"The markets were expecting Crimea to agree to join Russia. So that
alone is unlikely to move markets. The focus is on what kind of
actions Russia and the West will take next," said Tohru Sasaki, the
head of Japan rates and FX research at JPMorgan Chase.
Crimea's Moscow-backed leaders declared a 96-percent vote in favor
of quitting Ukraine and annexation by Russia in a referendum Western
powers said was illegal and will bring immediate sanctions.
U.S. President Barack Obama, rejecting the referendum result, warned
Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States was ready to
impose sanctions on Moscow, in the gravest crisis in East-West
relations since the Cold War.
"We have to see what kind of sanctions the West will take. Obviously
more Russians may feel they want to move their assets out of the
dollar to safer assets," said a proprietary trader at a Japanese
A fund shift out of risk assets could gain momentum if the
confrontation between the West and Russia escalates to an extent
that disrupts the fragile global economy, market players noted.
"If people start to review the optimistic consensus on the global
economy at the start of year, we could see more than a minor
adjustment in risk assets," the Japanese bank trader said.
Gold briefly rose to a six-month high of $1,391.76 per once, adding
to last week's 3 percent and last stood at $1,381.84.
[to top of second column]
The Japanese yen, often used as a funding currency for investment in
higher-yielding assets, also traded near the top of its range in the
past month and a half, with the dollar fetching 101.45 yen, not far
from this year's low around 100.80 yen.
The euro stood at $1.3907, off a 2 1/2-year high around $1.3967
reached last Thursday after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi
spoke of concerns about the strength of the common currency.
The yuan weakened after Beijing announced on Saturday it was
doubling the daily trading range for the yuan from Monday, adding
purpose to the promise it would allow market forces a greater role
in the economy and markets.
In the onshore market, the yuan dropped 0.15 percent to 6.1584 to
the dollar while the offshore yuan in Hong Kong hit a 10-month low
of 6.1624 to the dollar.
Analysts said the widening of the trading band was a sign of
confidence that the central bank had successfully fought off a
plague of currency speculators, and at the same time signaled that
regulators believe the economy is stable enough to handle more
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Eric
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