Asian stock markets drop as traders monitor virus cases in Europe

Asian stock markets drop as traders monitor virus cases in Europe

Beijing – Asian stock markets sank on Friday as traders watched an increase in coronavirus cases in Europe and disease control controls threatening to disrupt trade and travel.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney prices fell. US markets were closed Thursday for a holiday.

Austria imposed a nationwide lockdown for 10 days after daily virus deaths tripled, while Italy restricted the activity of unvaccinated people. The US government advised Americans to avoid Germany and Denmark. Morocco suspended flights from France after the daily new cases exceeded 30,000.

“Traders will be watching closely the situation with the new wave of COVID across Europe,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a report. Alves said the restrictions imposed by China limiting the access of cargo crews “prolong the crisis” in global trade.

The Shanghai Composite fell 0.4% to 3569.86 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell by an unusually wide margin of 2.5% to 28,779.03. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.9% to 24,260.94.

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Seoul’s Kospi lost 1% to 2,949.71 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 fell to 7,301.90. New Zealand and Southeast Asia markets also declined.

The benchmark Wall Street S&P 500 index closed 0.2% higher on Wednesday. US markets are set to reopen on Friday for a shortened trading session.

Investors became more cautious after Federal Reserve officials said in notes from their October meeting this week that they expected they could respond to rising inflation by raising interest rates sooner than previously planned.

Financial markets have been encouraged by strong US corporate earnings and signs that the global economy is recovering from the historic downturn in activity last year due to the pandemic. Stock prices were boosted by credit easing and other actions taken by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

Investors are concerned that central banks may feel pressure to withdraw stimulus earlier than planned due to stronger-than-expected inflation. The Fed previously said it expected to keep interest rates low until late next year.

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In energy markets, benchmark US crude fell $1.68 to $76.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the global oil price base, fell from $1.29 to $79.63 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 114.62 yen from 115.36 yen on Thursday. The euro advanced to $1.1224 from $1.1221.

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