Asian Markets Nervous As Omicron Spread Haunts Investors
Stock markets in Asia yielded to panic and gave up much of their early gains on Tuesday after warnings by Moderna’s CEO about the efficacy of vaccines against the omicron variant rattled sentiment.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index crept up 1.19 points or less than a tenth of a percent to finish at 3,563.89, as a jump by the manufacturing PMI quelled hopes of policy easing.
The benchmark Japanese Nikkei 225 Index shed 462.16 points or 1.6 percent to end Tuesday’s trading at 27,821.76. The slump came as the Japanese yen jumped to the 113 per dollar level amidst safe-haven buying reignited by virus fears.
Nissan Motor tumbled 5.2 percent. Nippon Sheet Glass Co, Mitsubhishi Motors Corp, Fast Retailing Co, Nissan Chemical Industries etc. also slid by more than 4 percent.
The Hang Seng Index of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange lost 376.98 points or 1.6 percent from previous close to finish trading at 23,475.26. The day’s high was at 23,888.37.
The Korean Stock Exchange’s Kospi Index plunged 70.31 points or 2.4 percent to close at 2,839.01 amidst disappointing factory output data and the continuance of COVID-19 curbs.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed trading at 7,256.00 after gaining 16.20 points or 0.2 percent. The index is currently 4.9 percent below its 52-week high of 7632.80.
Restaurant operator Collins foods surged more than 12 percent following upbeat results. Consumer finance business Credit Corp group rallied close to 9 percent following the announcement of the acquisition of Radio Rentals appliance leasing business.
Data released earlier showed that the seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved tumbled 12.9 percent to 15,911 units. Economists had expected in a 2 percent drop.
The NZX50 of the New Zealand Stock Exchange gained 186 points or 1.5 percent to close at 12,718.91. At the close, the index was 6.8 percent below the 52-week high of 13643.78.
Power producer Meridien Energy and telecom business Spark New Zealand gained more than 5 percent. Real estate operator Argosy Property followed closely with a gain of 4.6 percent. Dairy business Synlait Milk was the biggest loser, dropping around 4 percent.
Meanwhile, data showed that The ANZ Business Outlook Index fell to -16.4 in November from -13.4 a month ago.
On Monday, the Wall Street rebounded from Friday’s sell-off triggered by fears of the new variant. Nasdaq 100 rallied 2.33 percent to close at 16,399.24, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average had moved up by a more modest 0.68 percent to end at 35,135.94.
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