SINGAPORE – Shares in the Asia-Pacific region fell in Friday trading, with Japanese equities leading losses regionally as fears of a new Covid variant weighed on investor sentiment.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan it fell 2.69% while the Topix index fell 2.09%. Shares of SoftBank Group fell around 5% after one Bloomberg reports as asked by Chinese regulators Didi, in which the Japanese conglomerate has a significant stake, to delist from the United States
These losses came after officials from the World Health Organization said on Thursday that they are monitoring of a new variant with “a large number of mutations.” A special meeting is scheduled for Friday to discuss its implications for vaccines and treatments.
Hong Kongs Hang Seng index also saw heavy losses of 1.98%. The variant has been discovered in Hong Kong, according to South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla.
The S & P / ASX 200 in Australia fell 1.45%. Australia’s retail sales in october, it rose 4.9% month-on-month, seasonally adjusted, according to official estimates released on friday. This was much higher than the 2.5% increase predicted in a Reuters survey.
MSCI’s broadest index for equities in Asia and the Pacific outside Japan traded 1.45% lower.
The yen strengthens during the flight to safety
The Japanese yen, generally seen as a safe haven currency, strengthened in Friday trading as investors sought protection. The yen was last traded at 114.69 per dollar, compared to levels above 115 previously against the dollar.
The US dollar index, which follows the dollar against a basket of its equals, was at 96,721 – still above levels below 96.5 seen earlier in the trading week.
The South African rand weakened by more than 1% against the dollar and was most recently traded at 16.2172 per dollar.
The Australian dollars fell to $ 0.7143, which increased losses after yesterday’s fall from levels above $ 0.72.
Oil falls at least 2%
Oil prices were lower in the morning during Asia’s opening hours, with an international benchmark Burnt raw futures down 2.01% to $ 80.57 per barrel. American raw futures fell 2.54% to $ 76.40 per barrel.
Travel stocks in the Asia-Pacific region fell in Friday trading in the midst of renewed Covid fears.
In Australia, Qantas Airways shares fell 4.91% while Hong Kong-listed shares of Cathay Pacific fell 2.98%. Shares of Japan Airlines in Japan, it fell 4.91% while Singapore Airlines’ shares of Singapore fell 1.71%.
Markets in the US were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving weekend.