Asia-Pacific stocks were mostly lower by the close on Thursday, as U.S. markets again notched highs after data showed inflation was not as bad as feared. The dollar weakened while Asian currencies rose.
Chinese stocks closed in negative territory. The Shanghai Composite was down 0.22% to close at 3,524.74, while the Shenzhen component declined 0.79% to 14,901.97.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost nearly 1%. In its Hong Kong debut, Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto’s shares dipped as much as 1.8% below their offer price, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. It later pared some of those losses to dip around 1% by the afternoon.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan was down 0.2% to close at 28,015.02, while the Topix closed nearly flat to 1,953.55. In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.38% to 3,208.38.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged marginally up to close at 7,588.20. While the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.62% by the afternoon.
In earnings, Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, reported quarterly profits that beat expectations. It is April to June net profit was up 30% from a year earlier, according to Reuters.
Markets will continue to monitor the Covid situation in the region after the World Health Organization warned global cases could pass 300 million by early next year if the pandemic continues in its current direction. The projection came just a week after the WHO reported 200 million Covid cases worldwide and six months after the globe topped 100 million cases.
Meanwhile, South Korea reported a new daily record of more than 2,200 cases, its health minister said Wednesday, according to Reuters.
In Australia, Melbourne extended its lockdown by another week as it struggles to contain the highly infectious delta variant.
Asian Markets Currencies and Oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, fell to 92.940 from levels above 93.1 yesterday.
“The U.S. dollar traded lower against all of the major currencies after the U.S. inflation report showed consumer prices slowing in the month of July. The resilience of AUD is surprising with the government extending lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne after the number of new COVID-19 cases in Sydney hit new record highs.” Kathy Lien, the co-founder of 60Second Investor.
The Australian and New Zealand dollars benefited the most from U.S. dollar weakness and the risk-on rally, she said.
On Thursday afternoon, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7361, strengthening from levels above $0.732 seen yesterday. The New Zealand dollar was at 0.7022, from levels below 0.70 seen earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, the Japanese yen traded at 110.41, strengthening from levels above 110.7 the day before.
Meanwhile, oil prices declined in the afternoon of Asia hours. Brent crude futures were down 0.1% to $71.37 per barrel. U.S. crude futures fell 0.14% to $69.15 per barrel.