Stock market: Asian shares mostly fall as technology shares plunge


Asian benchmarks were mostly lower on Wednesday as tech shares in the region repeated similar declines in the sector on Wall Street.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.1% to 29,332.16. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3% to 7,565.80. South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.3% to 2,950.71. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.3% to 22,985.05, while the Shanghai Composite lost 1.0% to 3,596.03.

Worries continue about COVID-19, as reports of the more contagious Omicron bacteria continue to mount in the region.

In Japan, many people did not heed warnings as a precaution, and crowds were out at levels close to pre-pandemic levels in Tokyo, where booster shots were barely initiated. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has promised to accelerate progress, starting with medical experts.

“The region could continue to see an increasing spread of the Omicron virus, but recent manufacturing PMIs appear to be holding back. The risks may lie in any restrictive measure. further, could cloud the outlook for the services sector, along with supply chain disruptions,” said Yeap Jun Rong, IG market strategist in Singapore, referring to the purchasing managers index, an index. economy in manufacturing and services.

Analysts expect trading in Asia to remain volatile for some time. Daily reported COVID-19 cases are still small compared to Europe and the US.

Expert opinion is divided between those who think Omicron may cause less serious illness and those who advise more caution. Any restrictions on business activity will certainly weigh on the recovery that all countries are expecting to happen soon.

“Global markets appear to be dismissing Omicron as an existential threat, with some suggesting that the Omicron variant represents the “final hurdle” to Covid. Let’s hope they are right, but there could still be one final blow to activity in Asia before we say a return to the status quo, says Robert Carnell, head of research for Asia Pacific at ING normal state.

A slide in technology shares sent the S&P 500 index on Wall Street slightly lower on Tuesday, even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked another all-time high.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1% to 4,793.54, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 1.3% to 15,622.72 after a volatile day of trading. The Dow rose 0.6 percent to 36,799.65, thanks in part to solid gains from Caterpillar and JPMorgan Chase, up 5.4 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.

The Russell 2000 index fell 0.2%, to 2,268.87.

Banks were among the biggest gainers as bond yields rose, pushing 10-year Treasury yields to 1.65% from 1.63% late Monday. Yields were 1.51% on Friday. When investors sell bonds, their prices fall and their yields increase.

Stocks got off to a good start on Monday, 2022, with the S&P 500 and Dow setting new highs. The combination of economic data and the company’s quarterly earnings reports will provide investors with insight into the impact that the coronavirus pandemic and persistently rising inflation are having on businesses. companies and consumers.

The jobs market will be a key focus for investors, starting with the Labor Department’s jobs report for December, due out on Friday.

Some sectors of the economy are still struggling, especially with supply chain issues. Growth in the manufacturing sector slowed in December to an 11-month low, according to The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group made up of purchasing executives. The organization will release its December report for the services sector on Thursday.

Investors are also anticipating minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting in December, released on Wednesday.

Walgreens, Constellation Brands and Conagra report their latest quarterly earnings on Thursday.

In energy trading, benchmark US crude fell 8 cents to $76.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 91 cents to $76.99 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 6 cents to $79.94 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar fell to 116.00 Japanese yen from 116.16 yen. The dollar’s recent range against the yen is at a five-year high, and the cheaper yen could be a plus for Japan’s huge exporters. The euro is priced at $1.1299, up from $1.1286.

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