Asia Markets: Nikkei leads Asian market declines to start the week

Asia-Pacific stocks fell to start the week, led by Japan, following broad regionwide declines on Friday.

But energy stocks were bright points, aided by Friday’s near-2% jump in oil prices.

Though the Brent global benchmark LCOK8, -0.50%   was down 0.4% Monday morning, stocks in Australia’s energy sector rose 1.4%. That helped limit the S&P/ASX 200’s XJO, +0.27%   decline to 0.2%.

The Nikkei NIK, -0.89%   logged steady declines in the first hour of trading to lead the Japanese benchmark down 1.3%. The yen USDJPY, -0.13%   has risen as much as 0.25% this morning, reversing a pullback.

A land-sale scandal has been hanging over Japanese markets and the government lately. Local reports over the weekend suggested the issue may impact more officials.

“We are in the midst of a very big political scandal,” said Hisao Matsuura, chief strategist at Nomura Japan. Fresh polls show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval rating has fallen.

Meanwhile, global markets are awaiting the Federal Open Market Committee’s latest policy statement and economic projections on Wednesday. As such, “it is no surprise that we are seeing a little bit of investor caution this morning,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -0.50%   fell 0.7% while other markets in Asia were seeing early declines.

And bitcoin BTCUSD, -1.25%   has pushed back above $8,000, according to CoinDesk, after falling below $7,500 during midday action Sunday in the U.S.

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