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Asia stocks tumble on Ukraine fears

Markets drop in Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Sydney

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Monitors show the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollars and South Korean won in Seoul, Sou...

Monitors show the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollars and South Korean won in Seoul, Sou... (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Stocks dropped sharply across the Asia-Pacific region on Monday (Feb. 21) as the risk of conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to jitter investors.

Taiwan’s stock market also dived at the start of trading at 9 a.m., hitting a low of 18,129 points, per Yahoo. Meanwhile, Tokyo’s Nikkei Stock Average fell over 2% at one point in morning trading, per a Nikkei Asia report.

There was flux across numerous sectors in Tokyo, including tech, auto, and retail. Investors looking for a safe space to weather the storm turned to currency and gold, with the yen strengthening slightly against the U.S. dollar and yen-denominated gold futures rising to new heights.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi index fell 1.4%, per Nikkei. Many large caps lost ground in Seoul with tech and chemical industry players hit hardest by the sell-off, according to Yonhap.

Australia's benchmark ASX also opened weaker, per Nikkei.

Investors across the region have been rattled by rising geopolitical uncertainty as fears Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment. The Kremlin has amassed troops and military assets at the border with Ukraine and intensified military drills in neighboring Belarus, which experts believe will be a launching pad for Russian troops to invade Ukraine from the north.

Washington now sees conflict as almost inevitable, with U.S. President Biden last week saying his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has almost certainly decided to invade Ukraine within the next few days. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday (Feb. 20) said "everything leading up to the actual invasion appears to be taking place."