Asian stocks ended deep in the red on Wednesday as a resurgence of coronavirus infections in some countries cast doubt over an economic rebound from the pandemic.
Chinese shares recovered from an early slide to end largely unchanged on the back of upbeat earnings results from some banks. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended down 513.81 points, or 1.76 percent, at 28,621.92.
Japanese shares tumbled as investors braced for another state of emergency expected to be imposed in the capital and other major cities.
The Nikkei average slumped 591.83 points, or 2.03 percent, to 28,508.55 as the country reported nationwide daily infections of around 4500. The broader Topix index closed 1.98 percent lower at 1,888.18.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group rose over 1 percent while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing lost 2 percent.
Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota and Nissan fell between 1.9 percent and 2.6 percent while shares of Mitsubishi Motors lost as much as 5.4 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings fell around 3 percent.
Australian markets extended losses from the previous session as a new case of the novel coronavirus detected at Auckland airport sparked worries of a pause in the trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 20.30 points, or 0.29 percent, to 6,997.50 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 23.20 points, or 0.32 percent, at 7,258.90.
Travel-related stocks paced the decliners, with Qantas Airways and Flight Centre Travel ending down 1.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.
Mining giant BHP Group eased half a percent after reporting a 4 percent fall in third-quarter iron-ore output.
Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search dropped 1-2 percent as oil prices fell for a second day on fears that world’s third-biggest oil importer India may impose new restrictions on movement.
In economic news, the value of retail sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent sequentially in March in March, official data showed. That beat expectations for an increase of 1.0 percent.
Seoul stocks ended lower to snap a seven-day winning streak. The benchmark Kospi dropped 49.04 points, or 1.52 percent, to close at 3,171.66 as investors cashed in recent gains amid valuation concerns. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 1.6 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix tumbled 4.3 percent.
New Zealand shares fell sharply as the Covid-19 situation worsened across Asia. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 143.21 points, or 1.13 percent, to 12,535.34, after having declined 0.7 percent on Tuesday.
Consumer prices in New Zealand climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent sequentially in the first quarter of 2021, Statistics New Zealand said earlier today.
That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.7 percent following the 0.5 percent gain in the fourth quarter of 2020. On a yearly basis, consumer prices climbed 1.5 percent.
U.S. stocks fell notably overnight as concerns over rising coronavirus cases around the world hit travel-related stocks.
The Dow slid 0.8 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 gave up 0.7 percent.
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