Asian stocks got off to a shaky start on Monday as a revived FBI inquiry into U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's private email server sharpened uncertainty over the election, while investors also awaited key economic data this week.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent to 17,369.48 and South Korea's Kospi also shed 0.4 percent, to 2,010.41. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent to 23,003.08 while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent to 3,092.20. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7 percent to 5,322.70. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also fell.
US VOTE: FBI Director James Comey dropped a bombshell Friday when he said the agency would review new emails that might be connected to the dormant investigation of Clinton's email practices. In response, the top Senate Democrat, Harry Reid, blasted the director for making the announcement just 11 days before the U.S. election, saying he effectively favored one party over another. Democrats fear Republican Donald Trump will gain fresh momentum from the discovery as the Nov. 8 vote nears.
QUOTEWORTHY: "There seems little doubt that a Trump victory would trigger selling in stock markets from current levels," Ric Spooner of CMC Markets in Sydney said in a commentary. "This has traders nervous as they start the week assimilating fresh news on Hilary Clinton's email problems," he said, adding that while markets continue to assume a Clinton victory, they're wary of pushing stock prices too much higher until they learn more about the investigation and whether it's having any impact on voter sentiment.
JAPAN DATA: Industrial output and retail sales were weaker than anticipated, according to figures released Monday. Retail sales were flat in September compared with August but fell nearly 2 percent from a year earlier, reflecting weak household spending. Analysts are divided over whether the latest data might prompt the Bank of Japan to whittle the benchmark policy interest rate, now at minus 0.1 percent, still lower at a meeting Tuesday.
WEEK AHEAD: Investors have some important data releases this week on their radar, and earnings from big companies such as Sony and Honda. Chinese and U.S. factory activity is scheduled for release on Tuesday.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended lower on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.1 percent at 18,161.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 0.3 percent to 2,126.41. The Nasdaq composite slid 0.5 percent to 5,190.10.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark oil futures extended losses after falling last week to its lowest price this October. Crude slipped 23 cents $48.47 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.02, or 2.1 percent, to settle at $48.70 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 23 cents to $50.45 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 104.83 yen from 104.73. The euro dipped to $1.0966 from $1.0986.