SINGAPORE-Asia-Pacific stock markets fell in Friday’s trading, with Japanese stocks leading the decline.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell 2.37%, SoftBank Group shares fell more than 4%, and the Topix Index fell 1.86%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index also fell sharply, down 1.73%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.43%, while the Shenzhen Composite Index hovered above the flat line.
The Korea Composite Index fell 0.7%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.37%. According to official estimates released on Friday, retail sales in Australia in October increased by 4.9% month-on-month on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is much higher than the 2.5% increase predicted in the Reuters survey.
The MSCI Asia Pacific’s broadest index outside Japan fell 1.1%.
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Travel stocks frustrated
Due to the renewed fears of the new crown virus, travel stocks in the Asia-Pacific region fell in Friday’s trading.
In Australia, Qantas shares fell 4.73%, while Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 2.7%. Japan Airlines’ shares in Japan plunged 4.29%, while Singapore Airlines’ shares in Singapore fell 1.71%.
These losses occurred after World Health Organization officials said on Thursday that they were monitoring a new variant with “a large number of mutations.” A special meeting is scheduled for Friday to discuss its impact on vaccines and treatments.
The US market is closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Oil prices fell by more than 1%
Oil prices fell in early Asian trading hours, and the international benchmark Brent crude oil futures fell 1.25% to US$81.19 per barrel. US crude oil futures fell 1.71% to US$77.05 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the U.S. dollar against a basket of currencies, reported 96.722, still higher than the level below 96.5 earlier in the trading week.
The yen traded at 114.92 against the dollar, still below the level of 114.5 earlier this week. After falling from a level above US$0.72 yesterday, the Australian dollar was quoted at US$0.7158.
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