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Asian markets slump on worsening coronavirus outbreaks

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 4/21/2021 Associated Press
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

BANGKOK — Shares skidded in Asia on Wednesday after Wall Street closed lower for a second straight day, led by drops in technology companies and banks.

Worsening coronavirus outbreaks in Asia have cast a shadow over prospects for a rebound from the pandemic. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell more than 2% and other benchmarks also declined.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 gave back 0.7%, pulling the index further below the record high it set on Friday. Small-company stocks, which have been beating the rest of the market in recent months, fell more than other sectors.

Asian governments are scrambling to secure supplies of COVID-19 vaccines after seeing infection numbers surge in recent weeks. The rising caseloads are straining medical systems from Japan to India and leading to a restoration of pandemic precautions such as travel restrictions, quarantine requirements and a dimming of nightlife.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gave up 2.2% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 1.8%. In Seoul, the Kospi lost 1.5%, while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.2% despite strong retail sales data. The Shanghai Composite index inched slightly higher. Stocks fell in Singapore Taiwan and Indonesia

“Global stocks are still plumbing the lows after renewed virus concerns spooked markets overnight,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary.

Worsening outbreaks in India and Thailand have also cast a pall on a recovery in travel, which in turn is clouding the outlook for oil and fuel prices, he said.

On Wednesday the S&P 500 closed at 4,134.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.8% to 33,821.30. After shedding an early gain, the technology-heavy Nasdaq slid 0.9%, to 13,786.27.

Apple fell 1.3% as part of a broad slide in technology companies. Banks also accounted for a big share of the selling, which came as bond yields fell, reversing course after moving higher on Monday.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.56% from 1.60%.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 51 cents to $62.16 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up 76 cents to $62.67 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude the international standard, declined 46 cents to $66.11 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar declined to 107.95 Japanese yen from 108.09 yen late Tuesday.

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