Asian markets fall on virus fears
HONG KONG – Asian markets were sharply lower Friday on renewed concerns over the threat from coronavirus variants to the global economic recovery.
Japan’s decision to ban fans from most Olympic events, with Tokyo hosting the pandemic-postponed Games under a virus state of emergency, has heightened fears over the spread of infections from new coronavirus strains.
“Covid-19 resurgences remain a key risk for the region, with Japan being the latest to go under a state of emergency to curb spreads ahead of the Tokyo Olympics,” IG Asia market strategist Jun Rong Yeap wrote in a note.
“This may suggest a slower recovery ahead with third-quarter GDP growth probably revised lower.”
Tokyo led the losses in Asia, falling 1.9 percent, while Sydney, Seoul and Taipei were all down more than one percent. Shanghai fell 0.7 percent.
Hong Kong was a rare bright spot, climbing 0.7 percent on bargain hunting following the previous day’s rout which saw the benchmark index fall 2.9 percent.
All three major US indices ended solidly down Thursday, with the Dow shedding 0.8 percent.
“The markets have been supported by expectations on economic growth before … but now investors question whether the economy will normalise given a new wave of Covid-19 because of new variants and stagnation of economic indications,” Okasan Online Securities said.
Oil prices were steady in Asian trade, with Brent hovering around $74 a barrel and WTI around $73.
Key figures around 0400 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.9 percent at 27,598.30
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.7 percent at 27,330.71
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,501.16
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1838 from $1.1850 at 2115 GMT Thursday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3778 from $1.3785
Euro/pound: UP at 85.93 from 85.90 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 109.89 from 109.73 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $74.07 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $72.98 per barrel
New York – DOW: DOWN 0.8 percent at 34,421.93 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.7 percent at 7,030.66 (close)
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