Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Thursday, with fears over the fresh wave of COVID-19 infections in several Asian countries and concerns over China’s crackdown on technology companies denting sentiment.
Chinese shares ended lower after officials flagged the possibility of a reserve requirement ratio cut to help the economy. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 28.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,525.50.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 807.49 points, or 2.9 percent, to settle at 27,153.13 as tech stocks continued to drop amid regulatory fears.
Japanese markets extended losses from the previous session as another virus state of emergency for Olympic city Tokyo looked imminent, raising worries about an economic slowdown. The government is planning to declare another COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo until August 22 to combat a recent surge in infections.
The Nikkei 225 Index slid 248.92 points, or 0.9 percent, to 28,118.03, marking its lowest close in more than two weeks. The broader Topix ended 0.9 percent lower at 1,920.32.
Retailers Marui Group and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings gave up 2-3 percent. Showa Denko declined 1.9 percent after reports the materials producer will sell its underperforming lead-acid battery operations to investment fund Advantage Partners and financial services company Tokyo Century for 60 billion yen.
Daikin Industries jumped 3.7 percent. The Nikkei reported that the country’s top air conditioner maker has developed a refrigerant for electric vehicles that can extend their range by up to 50 percent.
In economic news, Japan posted a current account surplus of 1,979.7 billion yen in May, a government report showed. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 1,820.4 billion.
Meanwhile, Australian stocks eked out modest gains as a rise in metal prices boosted miners. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended up 14.50 points, or 0.2 percent, at 7,341.40, finishing off the day’s highs as New South Wales State reported its biggest daily rise in locally acquired cases of COVID-19 for the year. The broader All Ordinaries Index edged up 15.60 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,614.90.
BHP rallied 1.8 percent and Fortescue Metals Group rose 0.7 percent, tracking a rise in iron ore and copper prices.
Sydney Airport Holdings jumped 2.9 percent after reports that a consortium led by Macquarie Group is exploring a rival offer for the company.
Zip Co. shares surged 13.7 percent after reports that Swedish buy-now-pay-later giant Klarna may have taken a strategic 4 percent stake in the firm.
Seoul stocks slumped as the country reported its highest ever one-day rise in new COVID-19 cases, prompting authorities to consider imposing a semi-lockdown in the capital. The benchmark Kospi dropped 32.66 points, or 1 percent, to 3,252.68.
Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 1.1 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix lost 1.6 percent, while pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics climbed 2.1 percent.
New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end on a flat note. A2 Milk rallied 2.7 percent to extend gains from the previous session after it received regulatory approval to take a 75 percent stake in Southland dairy producer Mataura Valley Milk.
U.S. stocks posted modest gains overnight and bond yields continued their steep descent as the minutes of the Fed’s mid-June FOMC meeting signaled the U.S. central bank was in no hurry to raise rates or scale back its attest purchase program.
Fed officials at their most recent meeting had discussed tapering but emphasized continuing to assess the economy’s progress at coming meetings.
The Dow and the S&P 500 both rose about 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite inched up marginally to extend gains for the fourth day and reach a new record closing high.
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