Japan stocks fall nearly 2% as Asia-Pacific shares slide after Covid worries resurface in region

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific fell in Friday trade as Covid worries resurfaced in the region.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 led losses among the region’s major markets as it fell 1.7% in afternoon trade while the Topix index shed 1.48%.

Olympics organizers will ban spectators from the upcoming summer games in Tokyo, after a state of emergency in the city was declared by Japan on Thursday as the country sees rising Covid-19 cases. The state of emergency will last till August 22.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.52%. South Korea announced Friday that the greater Seoul area will be placed under the toughest social distancing rules of Level 4, according to local news agency Yonhap.

Australian stocks also declined as the S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.29%. The city of Sydney earlier this week announced that Covid-19 restrictions would be extended by another week.

Mainland Chinese stocks slipped by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite shedding 0.69% and the Shenzhen component declining 1.029%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.65%.

Reuters reported Friday, citing sources, that the Biden administration is set to add more Chinese firms to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.53% lower.

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China inflation data

China’s consumer price index for June rose 1.1% as compared with a year ago, data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday. That was lower than expectations for a 1.3% year-on-year increase by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, Chinese producer inflation data came in in line with expectations. The producer price index for June rose 8.8% as compared with a year ago, meeting forecasts by analysts in a Reuters poll for a 8.8% rise. The June PPI reading was a slight decrease in pace from the 9% increase in May.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.432 following a recent decline from above 92.7.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.92 per dollar, stronger than levels around 110.6 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7423, still below levels above $0.755 seen earlier in the week.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping fractionally to $74.08 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were slightly higher at $72.99 per barrel.

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