Global Markets Asia

Asia Stocks Mostly Rise as Investors Assess Omicron Variant Risk

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher in Wednesday trade as investors continued to assess the impact of the omicron Covid variant.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.34% as of its final hour of trading, paring earlier gains of more than 1%.

Asian Markets Chart
Hang Seng Index Performance Chart

Mainland Chinese stocks closed mixed, with the Shanghai composite slipping slightly to 3,622.62 and the Shenzhen component advancing 0.697% to 14,791.33.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.16% higher at 28,562.21 while the Topix index climbed nearly 0.1% to 1,971.51. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.32%, finishing the trading day at 2,984.48.

Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia recovered from earlier losses, rising 0.13% on the day to 7,364.80. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.32%.

Singapore travel stocks fell in Wednesday trade after the country’s health ministry announced freezing of new ticket sales for quarantine-free travel starting Thursday in a bid to limit exposure to imported omicron cases.

Shares of Singapore Airlines fell 1.02% while SATS declined 0.26%. The broader Straits Times index in Singapore was little changed, as of 3:23 p.m. local time.

Those moves contrasted against gains largely seen elsewhere in the region for travel stocks. Japan Airlines shares in Japan surged 2.68% while ANA Holdings rose 1.17%. Australia’s Qantas Airways climbed 0.41%.

In Hong Kong, shares of Cathay Pacific were up 0.79% while China Eastern Airlines slipped 0.35%. Technology shares in Asia largely rose in Wednesday trade.

In Hong Kong, shares of Chinese tech giants pared earlier gains but mostly remained in positive territory. Alibaba was up 0.44% while Tencent gained 0.14%, while Meituan dipped 0.26%. The Hang Seng Tech index traded 0.91% higher.

Over in Japan, Softbank Group’s stock dipped 0.24% while South Korea-listed shares of chipmaker SK Hynix climbed 2.01% and Kakao Games added 2.72%.

Those moves followed similar gains by their U.S. counterparts overnight, with the Nasdaq Composite jumping 2.4% to 15,341.09.

Other major indexes on Wall Street also saw sizable gains as the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 560.54 points to 35,492.70 while the S&P 500 gained 1.78% to 4,649.23.

Asian Markets Currencies and Oil

Investors monitored the Turkish lira on Wednesday following its recent wild swings after the country’s president announced a plan to support the currency and protect local deposits against market moves.

The lira was last at 12.546 per dollar, still much stronger than the record low seen earlier this week when the currency was above the 18 levels against the greenback.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.585 — above levels below 94 seen late last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.17 per dollar following a recent weakening from levels below 113.7 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.7135 after climbing from below 0.712 earlier this week.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asia trading hours. International benchmark Brent crude futures traded slightly lower at $73.96 per barrel. U.S. crude futures climbed 0.14% to $71.22 per barrel.


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