South Korean and Taiwanese stocks led losses among major Asia-Pacific markets in Friday trade, with shares of firms related to conglomerate Samsung falling.
The broader Kospi in South Korea closed 1.16% lower at 3,171.29 while the Taiex in Taiwan dropped 1.38% to finish the trading day at 16,982.11.
Shares of South Korean industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics plunged 3.38% while Samsung C&T dropped 0.74%. Samsung Life Insurance fell 0.39% and Samsung SDS declined 1.96%.
Those losses came after Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee was released from prison on Friday. South Korea’s justice ministry announced earlier this week that he had qualified for parole.
He served 207 days in jail – just over half the sentence he received after being convicted of bribery and embezzlement in January.
The case involved the country’s former President Park Guen-hye, who is also in jail for bribery and corruption.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped about 0.7%, as of its final hour of trading. Mainland Chinese stocks were also lower as the Shanghai composite dipped 0.24% to close at 3,516.30 while the Shenzhen component declined 0.691% to finish the trading day at 14,799.03.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.14% lower at 27,977.15 while the Topix index advanced 0.15% to finish the trading day at 1,956.39.
Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.54% higher to close at 7,628.90 as investors watched the coronavirus situation, with the country’s capital Canberra entering a week-long lockdown from Thursday after a Covid-19 case was identified.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.74%.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 14.88 points to 35,499.85 while the S&P 500 gained about 0.3% to 4,460.83. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.35% to 14,816.26.
Asian Markets Currencies & Oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.984 — still above levels below 92.9 seen earlier in the week.
The Japanese yen traded at 110.26 per dollar, weaker than levels below 110.20 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.734, off levels above $0.736 seen earlier in the trading week.
Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.56% to $70.91 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.72% to $68.59 per barrel.