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Asia report: Markets mixed after Omicron reaches US shores

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 02 Dec 2021

Asia report: Markets mixed after Omicron reaches US shores

(Sharecast News) - Stock markets finished in a mixed state in Asia on Thursday, with consternation around the 'Omicron' variant of Covid-19 still dragging investor sentiment downwards.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.65% at 27,753.37, as the yen weakened 0.26% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 113.07.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing was up 0.09%, while among the benchmark's other major components, robotics specialist Fanuc was down 0.41% and technology giant SoftBank Group slid 5.1%.

The broader Topix index was 0.54% lower by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,926.37.

On the Mainland, the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.09% to 3,573.84, and the smaller, technology-centric Shenzhen Composite lost 0.62% to 2,508.45.

South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.57% to 2,945.27, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong advanced 0.55% to 23,788.93.

Gaming hardware maker Razer plunged 7.87% in the special administrative region, after the company confirmed it had been approached with an offer to take it private.

Razer said a consortium had offered HKD 2.82 per share to take the firm private, which was a 5.62% premium on its closing price on Wednesday.

The blue-chip technology stocks in Seoul, meanwhile, were on the front foot with Samsung Electronics rising 1.88% and SK Hynix 3% firmer.

"Travel and tourism stocks in the US were the latest casualty of selling pressure as the first case of the new variant hit American shores," said Interactive Investor head of markets Richard Hunter.

"The news exacerbated what had been a cautious recovery from the initial waves of the pandemic, with concerns already in place that some were holding back from joining the workforce until social confidence returned.

"The latest news will likely harm the brittle confidence of the consumer and markdowns were in evidence across each of the major indices."

Hunter said that additionally, further comments from the Fed chair Jerome Powell suggested that inflation could be "more persistent" than previously thought, with the possibility that it might not recede in the second half of next year.

"As such, speculation is now mounting that the middle of next year will see the first of a series of interest rate hikes, with the tapering removal having been completed ahead of schedule."

Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 2.12% at $70.33 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 2.17% to $66.99.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.15% to 7,225.20, as the country's trade surplus came in at a seasonally-adjusted AUD 11.22bn for October.

That was just above Reuters-polled expectations for a trade surplus of AUD 11bn.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was 0.42% lower at 12,670.24, led lower by cinema technology company Vista Group, which was down 3.4% in Wellington.

The down under dollars were in a mixed state against the greenback, with the Aussie last flat at AUD 1.4073, while the Kiwi strengthened 0.07% to NZD 1.4674.

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