Jittery Asian Markets Yield on Virus Woes

Stock markets in Asia mostly yielded to panic as the worsening coronavirus situation and the likely economic impact of the virus-related curbs rattled investor sentiment. Asian stocks struggled for momentum despite the keenly awaited December inflation number from the U.S. being more or less on expected lines.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 42.17 points or 1.17 percent to finish at 3,555.26 amid growing concerns over the coronavirus situation, the strict lockdowns and the resultant impact on the economy.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 277 points or 0.96 percent to end Thursday’s trading at 28,489.13 as the fast-spreading Omicron variant dampened investor sentiment and ignited concerns over whether growth could coexist with the worsening pandemic situation.

Pacific Metals Co engaged in electrical power generation business gained 6.64 percent, followed by Toho Zinc Co which gained 5.88 percent. Electrical equipment maker Yaskawa Electric Corp lost the most, 6.29 percent. Food retailer Aeon Co and entertainment business Toho Co too shed more than 5 percent.

The Hang Seng Index of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange added 27.60 points or 0.11 percent from previous close to finish trading at 24,429.77. The day’s high was at 24,561.48 and low at 24,289.19.

Korean Stock Exchange’s Kospi Index lost 10 points or 0.35 percent to close at 2962.09. The day’s trading range was between 2958.39 and 2982.14.

Australia’s S&P/ASX200 closed trading at 7,474.40 after gaining 35.50 points or 0.48 percent. The index is currently 2.08 percent below its 52-week high of 7632.80.

The top-performing stock of the index is casino operator Crown Resorts which rallied 8.77 percent after U.S. private equity giant Blackstone Inc. increased its takeover bid. Nickel Mines surged 5.16 percent.

Medical device company Polynovo dropped more than 10 percent, a day after it issued positive trading update resulting in a major uptick. Pointsbet Holdings and Sonic Healthcare, have both declined more than 5 percent.

The NZX50 of the New Zealand Stock Exchange gained 23 points or 0.18 percent to close at 12,826.99.

Travel software solutions provider Serko was the top gainer with a rally of 4.75 percent. Meridian Energy gained 2.36 percent. Tourism Holdings declined 3.85 percent, closely followed by Sky Network Television which declined 3.27 percent.

Meanwhile, risk appetite was supported by data that showed the number of building consents issued for new dwellings rising 0.6 percent month-over-month in November versus a 2.1 percent fall in the previous month.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street did not witness further sell-off as the inflation reading though high, came in along expected lines. Nasdaq-100 rallied 0.38 percent on Wednesday to close at 15,905.10, whereas Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up a more modest 0.11 percent to end at 36,290.32.

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