Asia stock markets mixed on virus curbs, Wall Street decline

by Jonathan Adams
Wall Street

The Nikkei 225 dropped 1.2% to 27,753.83, the Hang Seng gained 0.4% to 28,142.85, the Kospi declined 0.6% to 3,135.16, while the S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.3% to 7,033.80

Stock markets in Asia were mixed Monday after Taiwan and Singapore tightened anti-coronavirus restrictions and Wall Street turned in its biggest weekly decline in three months.

Shanghai and Hong Kong gained, while Tokyo and Seoul dropped.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index advanced Friday but closed the week down 1.4% for its first weekly decline in three weeks.

Taiwan and Singapore announced restrictions on public gatherings and other curbs over the weekend after a rise in new Covid cases, raising worries the region’s economic recovery might be pushed back.

Concerns on virus resurgences may continue to linger in the region, said Yeap Jun Rong of IG in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.9% to 3,420.73 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo dropped 1.2% to 27,753.83. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.4% to 28,142.85.

The Kospi in Seoul declined 0.6% to 3,135.16 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.3% to 7,033.80. New Zealand and Bangkok advanced while Singapore declined.

The rise in economies that had appeared to have the disease under control prompted concern. Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines re-imposed controls earlier in response to rising infections.

Thailand, which had managed to keep the pandemic mostly under control by virtually closing its borders and imposing mandatory quarantines, reported nearly 10,000 newly confirmed cases on Monday.

If the numbers are going up, even if they are still low, you don’t have much time to nip this in the bud before you could be dealing with an India-like situation, said Robert Carnell of ING in a report. The economic impact will depend in large part on how successful the measures now being rolled out end up being.

On the Wall Street, Friday’s gain was led by technology stocks. Retailers, banks and industrial stocks also gained.

The S&P 500 added 1.5% to 4,173.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.1% to 34,382.13, closing down 1.1% for the week. The Nasdaq added 2.3% to 13,429.98 for a weekly loss of 2.3%.

That followed three days of heavy selling driven by investor concerns about a possible rise in U.S. inflation. The major indexes had hit all-time highs the previous week.

Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google’s parent company all added 1% or more.

Government data Friday showed U.S. retail spending held steady in April at the previous month’s level, but that was below forecasts of a 1% rise over March.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude added 32 cents to $65.69 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract advanced $1.55 on Friday to $65.37. Brent crude gained 31 cents to $69.02 per barrel in London. It finished $1.66 higher the previous session at $68.71.

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