Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid COVID-19 Resurgence

Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Tuesday, following the mixed cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders were nervous about a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Asia. a spike in coronavirus cases across several markets in the region over the weekend led to lockdowns and restrictions in some areas as well as new travel curbs in some parts of the world. Asian stocks ended on a muted note Monday.

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Tuesday, after ending flat in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying below the 7,300 level, as traders braced for further updates on a worsening domestic coronavirus situation in some states. Stocks across most sectors are weak with only technology stocks, following their peers on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, providing a boost. The cues from Wall Street overnight were mixed.

Health authorities issued lockdowns in Sydney, Darwin and Perth and introduced fresh restrictions in Queensland following several outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant. New South Wales is bracing for an escalation in the number of locally acquired COVID-19 cases as about 130 people have been infected since June 16, when the first case was reported at Bondi in Sydney’s east.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 45.30 points or 0.62 percent to 7,262.00, after hitting a low of 7,241.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 46.00 points or 0.61 percent to 7,526.50. Australian stocks closed near the unchanged line on Monday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group, Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals are losing more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals and Mineral Resources are down almost 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are lower. Oil Search is losing almost 2 percent, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum are down more than 1 percent each. Beach energy and Origin Energy are declining more than 2 percent each.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are all losing almost 1 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay and Xero are gaining more than 1 percent each, while WiseTech Global is losing more than 1 percent. Appen is adding almost 1 percent.

Gold miners are mostly weak. Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Evolution Mining and Resolute Mining are losing almost 2 percent each. Gold Road Resources is declining more than 3 percent.

In other news, shares in Kathmandu are down more than 3 percent after the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer issued a profit warning due to lost sales from the Sydney lockdown.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.755 on Tuesday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly lower on Tuesday, extending the slight losses of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index just below the 28,800 level, as traders digested local data that showed unemployment rate increased. The news on another impending State of Emergency in Tokyo and other areas due to signs of resurgence in COVID-19 infections is also dampening sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,791.20, down 256.82 points or 0.88 percent, after hitting a low of 28,735.81 earlier. Japanese shares closed slightly lower on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing more than 2 percent, Toyota is down almost 2 percent and Nissan Motor is declining more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is flat and Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.3 percent, while Screen Holdings is losing 0.6 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are losing more than 1 percent each.

The major exporters are mixed, with Sony gaining more than 1 percent. Canon is losing almost 3 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are down more than 2 percent each.

Among the other major losers, Toyo Seikan Group Holdings and Takashimaya are losing more than 4 percent each, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Showa Denko K.K., IHI and Marui Group are down almost 4 percent each. Yamaha Motor, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, JFE Holdings, JTEKT, Tokyu Fudosan Holdings, Nippon Sheet Glass and Konica Minolta are declining more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, NEC is gaining almost 4 percent, Nexon is adding more than 3 percent and Dentsy Group is up more than 2 percent.

In economic news, the unemployment rate in Japan came in at 3.0 percent in May, the Ministry of Communications and Internal Affairs said on Tuesday. That was above expectations for 2.9 percent and was up from 2.8 percent in April. The job-to-applicant ratio was again 1.09, compared to forecasts for 1.08.

Also, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that the total value of retail sales in Japan was down 0.4 percent on month in May, following the 4.6 percent drop in April. On a yearly basis, retail sales climbed 8.2 percent, topping expectations for 7.9 percent after rising 11.9 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-110 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Singapore are lower by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. New Zealand, Indonesia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.2 and 0.7 percent each.

On the Wall Street, stocks closed on a mixed note on Monday as investors largely stayed cautious and selective with their moves. Concerns about the spread of the delta variant Covid-19 in Europe and Asia, as well as the resultant fresh restrictions on travel in several countries weighed on sentiment.

The major averages, the Dow ended the session with a loss of 150.57 points or 0.44 percent at 34,283.27. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 ended up by 9.91 points or 0.23 percent at 4,290.61 and the Nasdaq settled at a record closing high of 14,500.51 with a gain of 140.12 points or 0.98 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day amid concerns about fresh travel-related restrictions due to the spread of the delta variant of Covid-19 in several parts of the continent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.88 percent, Germany’s DAX ended 0.34 percent down and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.98 percent.

Crude oil prices were lower amid concerns about energy demand and on caution ahead the OPEC+ meet, scheduled to take place on Thursday. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended down by $1.14 or about 1.5% at $72.91 a barrel, the lowest close since June 18.

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