Asian Pacific Stocks Edge Lower Amidst Concerns About the Pandemic

Shares in Asia-Pacific were lower in Tuesday trading as concerns about the pandemic continued to linger.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.15% while the Topix index shed 0.44%.

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Nikkei 225 Index Performance Chart


The Bank of Japan on Tuesday announced its decision to keep monetary policy steady. The Japanese central bank also revised downward its forecast for core inflation in the fiscal year 2021 to 0.1% from the 0.5% projected in January.

Multiple regions, including Tokyo and Osaka, were recently placed under a new state of emergency to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.

In corporate developments, HSBC reported that its pre-tax profit rose 79% in the first quarter to $5.8 billion, higher than analyst expectations of $3.34 billion, according to estimates compiled by the lender. Shares of HSBC in Hong Kong were up 0.33% by Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed shares of Meituan jumped 2.49% despite China’s State Administration for Market Regulation announcing Monday that the Chinese tech giant was being probed for suspected monopolistic practices.

The company said it will “actively cooperate with the SAMR’s investigation and strictly implement relevant requirements.” Meituan also said its business operations “remain normal.”

The broader Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slipped 0.15%. Mainland Chinese stocks were lower by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite shedding 0.54% while the Shenzhen component declined 0.653%.

The Nifty 50 in India bucked the overall trend regionally and was up 0.44% in Tuesday morning trade while the BSE Sensex also gained 0.41%.

Investors continued to monitor India’s Covid situation as the country continues to battle a second wave that is pushing its healthcare system to the brink.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.32%. Australia shares declined as the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.33%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan shed 0.16%.

Asian Markets Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.966 struggling to recover following last week’s slip from above 91.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.27 per dollar, still weaker than levels around 107.5 against the greenback seen late last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7786, having risen from below $0.776 yesterday.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.46% to $65.95 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 0.5% to $62.22 per barrel.

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