Asian stocks fall as Delta variant casts shadow on growth

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian stocks failed to take a firm lead in an exceptional session on Wall Street on Friday as the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the region heightened concerns about its recovery economic.

A man looks at an electrical panel showing the Nikkei index outside a brokerage house in a business district in Tokyo, Japan on June 21, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon

The largest MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside of Japan fell 0.35%, dragged down by Chinese blue chips, which fell 0.56% and Hong Kong fell 0.46 %.

The Japanese Nikkei rose 0.11%.

“There are two main factors of volatility in the market this week, on the one hand everything surrounding Chinese regulations, and on the other hand the severity of the Delta epidemics in the region,” said Carlos Casanova, senior economist. Asia at UBP.

China on Friday reported 124 confirmed cases for August 5, its highest daily count of new coronavirus cases in the current outbreak, fueled by an increase in locally transmitted infections. Authorities have imposed travel restrictions in some cities.

Thailand and Malaysia both reported record daily cases on Thursday.

While the Asian benchmark MSCI recovered much of the China-induced losses last week, it is still down just over 10% from all-time highs reached in February.

In contrast, the MSCI World Stock Index is trading just below a record set on Wednesday.

“International investors are still understanding what happened in the education sector (in China) and expect it to continue to fuel sentiment,” Casanova said.

“The regulatory campaign is not over yet, it should continue to be a factor for the next three to six months or so,” he said.

Elsewhere in the region, PT Bukalapak.com Tbk, an Indonesian e-commerce company backed by Ant Group and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, rose 24.7% in its market debut after raising $ 1.5 billion. dollars in the country’s largest initial public offering.

Analysts say the listing will set the benchmark for IPO candidates in a region where global investors are looking for fast-growing companies.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed at record highs Thursday after a wave of strong corporate earnings and a further decline in jobless claims in the United States. All eyes are now on the July jobs report due later today.

US equity futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were down 0.1%.

Treasury yields extended their gains in Asian hours, having previously been helped by the healthy jobless claims report.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields rose to 1.2369% from its US close of 1.217% on Thursday.

This had a ripple effect on the dollar, which appreciated against the yen to a week high.

The stronger dollar and the potential for higher yields hurt gold. The spot price fell 0.12% to $ 1,801.81.

Oil paused in early Asian trading on Friday, but was forecast for its biggest weekly loss since October after drops earlier in the week due to rising COVID-19 cases and a surprise increase US crude stocks.

US crude was $ 69.1 a barrel, up 0.01%. Brent crude was $ 71.28 a barrel, down 0.01%.

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