Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as investors monitor omicron variant developments

Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as investors monitor omicron variant developments

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors assessed the impact of the omicron Covid variant.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.82% in early trade while the Topix index also declined 0.44%. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.75%.

Mainland Chinese stocks declined, with the Shanghai composite down 0.26% while the Shenzhen component shed 0.313%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.58%.

Australian stocks, which returned to trade following holidays on Monday and Tuesday, rose as the S&P/ASX 200 jumped about 1%. The Straits Times index in Southeast Asia also gained 0.25%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.24% lower.

Investors in Asia-Pacific will continue monitoring developments surrounding the omicron variant. A study from South Africa found the immune response of people infected with the omicron Covid variant appears to increase protection against delta more than fourfold and could displace it.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 declined 0.1% to 4,786.35, falling from the record close it saw on Monday. The Nasdaq Composite also shed 0.56% to 15,781.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average outperformed, rising 95.83 points to 36,398.21.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.19 after a recent bounce from around 96.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.79 per dollar, still weaker than levels below 114.5 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7217 following recent declines from above $0.725.

Oil prices were higher during the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.1% to $79.02 per barrel. U.S. crude futures sat above the flatline, trading at $76 per barrel.

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