Asia report: Markets mixed amid worsening Covid-19 situation
Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Wednesday, as investors kept tabs on the latest developments in the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 were up 1.04% at 28,456.59, as the yen weakened 0.13% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 103.90.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 0.86%, fashion firm Fast Retailing was ahead 1.12%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 2.82% was 2.82% higher.
The broader Topix index was 0.35% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,864.40.
Local media reported on Wednesday that Japan’s government was planning to extend the country’s state of emergency amid growing numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Prime minister Yoshihide Suga had declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding areas earlier in the week.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.27% at 3,598.65, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 1.08% weaker at 2,393.74.
Authorities in China were also ramping up Covid-19 restrictions, with fresh curbs being placed on social activities in Beijing.
South Korea’s Kospi was ahead 0.71% at 3,148.29, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong slipped 0.15% to 28,235.60.
Shares of computing giant Lenovo rocketed 9.69% in the special administrative region, after the ThinkPad maker announced plans to list stocks on the Science and Technology Innovation Board in Shanghai.
The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.99% while SK Hynix rose 3.1%.
“Asia markets have been subdued in the face of rising coronavirus cases in Japan, with the Japanese government expected to extend restrictions to more areas of the country in the coming days,” said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.
“This increase in restrictions also appears to be extending to certain areas of China, which thus far has avoided a second wave, but could be on the cusp of experiencing another widespread outbreak.”
Oil prices were higher at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 0.16% at $56.67 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate was 0.34% firmer at $53.39.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 eked out gains of 0.11% to 6,686.60, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 dropped 0.48% to settle at 13,120.28.
Both of the down under dollars were weaker on the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.28% at AUD 1.2906, and the Kiwi retreating 0.48% to NZD 1.3904.