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Asian Markets Decline Amidst Fears of Rising COVID-19 Cases

Shares in Asia-Pacific fell on Friday as Covid worries resurfaced in the region.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.07%% to close at 3,217.95. South Korea announced Friday that the greater Seoul area will be placed under the toughest social distancing rules of Level 4, according to local news agency Yonhap.

asia markets
South Korea Kospi Index Performance Chart

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.63% to close at 27,940.42 while the Topix index shed 0.41% to end the trading day at 1,912.38.

Olympics organizers will ban spectators from the upcoming summer games in Tokyo after a state of emergency in the city was declared by Japan on Thursday as the country sees rising COVID-19 cases. The state of emergency will last till August 22.

Australian stocks also declined as the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.93% on the day at 7,273.30. The city of Sydney earlier this week announced that COVID-19 restrictions would be extended by another week.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, with the Shanghai composite fractionally lower at 3,524.09 and the Shenzhen component declining 0.259% to 14,844.36. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced about 0.8%, as of its final hour of trading.

Reuters reported Friday, citing sources, that the Biden administration is set to add more Chinese firms to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang.

MSCI’s broadest index of shares outside Japan slipped 0.24%.
Asian Markets Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.503 following a recent decline from above 92.7.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.07 per dollar, stronger than levels around 110.6 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7429, still below levels above $0.755 seen earlier in the week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of  trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures rising 0.5% to $74.49 per barrel. U.S. crude futures climbed 0.7% to $73.45 per barrel.