Asian stock markets ended mixed on Monday as political unrest in the Middle East weighed on the sentiment.
Anti-government protests in Libya spread to capitol Tripoli amidst rumors that the country’s dictator Moammar Gaddafi has fled into exile in Venezuela. After a bloody crackdown in the eastern city of Benghazi, protesters are reportedly moving in on Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. More than 200 Libyans have reportedly been killed by government troops and mercenaries sent to quell the gathering rebellion.
Tokyo shares pared earlier losses and ended with marginal gains. Japanese benchmark index Nikkei rose 0.14 percent or 14.73 points to 10,857.53, led by gains from energy and resources related shares on back of higher crude oil prices.
Inpex Corp, Japan's biggest oil and gas developer, gained 1.7 percent to 597,000 yen. Softbank Corp. shares surged 5.55 percent to 3,420 yen after Mizuho Securities raised its target share price by 45 percent to 4,230 yen from 2,920 yen and maintained its outperform rating.
South Korean shares ended lower, led by declines from steelmakers and financials companies stocks. Benchmark Seoul composite declined 7.84 points or 0.39 percent to 2,005.30. POSCO declined 3.27 percent and KB Financial Group fell 1.56 percent.
Chinese stock markets ended higher despite the China’s central bank on Feb. 18 raised reserve requirements for lenders to keep inflation under control as gains from heavyweight oil company shares offset losses in banks and property firms. Shanghai composite advanced 1.14 percent or 32.96 points to 2,932.76.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 109.82 points or 0.47 percent to 23,485.42. CNOOC Ltd. gained 1.73 percent and PetroChina Ltd. advanced 0.94 percent.