Markets

Asia-Pacific Stocks Mixed as Investors Monitor Omicron Variant Developments

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday.
  • The S&P 500 declined from its record closing high overnight stateside while the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its fifth straight day of gains.
  • 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.

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

Chinese stocks led losses among the region's major markets, with the Shanghai composite down 0.91% to close at 3,597 while the Shenzhen component shed 1.24% to 14,653.82. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell about 1%, as of its final hour of trading.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.56% to close at 28,906.88 while the Topix index also declined 0.3% to finish the trading day at 1,998.99. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.89% on the day to 2,993.29.

Australian stocks, which returned to trade following holidays on Monday and Tuesday, rose as the S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.21% to close at 7,509.80. The Straits Times index in Singapore also gained 0.34% in afternoon trade.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.41%.

Investors in Asia-Pacific continued 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 96.231 after a recent bounce from around 96.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.89 per dollar, still weaker than levels below 114.5 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.722 following recent declines from above $0.725.

Oil prices were higher during the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.22% to $79.11 per barrel. U.S. crude futures climbed 0.13% to $76.08 per barrel.

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