Asia-Pacific Markets: Investors Watch Omicron Variant
SINGAPORE – Asia-Pacific markets were mixed on Tuesday as US markets retreated as the S&P fell a record. Meanwhile, investors will be watching the omicron variant as it becomes sharper again.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1% at the start of trading, while the Topix rose 0.27%.
However, South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.6% as tech names fell. Samsung Electronics fell 0.65%, while LG Electronics was down 2.24%.
The Australian S & P / ASX 200 fell 0.15%.
Caution over the new omicron variant prevailed again as the UK confirmed on Monday that at least one patient infected with the new omicron variant of Covid-19 has died in the country. China has also reported its first case of omicron, according to Reuters.
The University of Oxford on Monday released results showing that two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines are significantly less effective at warding off omicron compared to previous variants of the coronavirus. The study has not yet been peer reviewed.
The research paper noted that some vaccine recipients “failed to neutralize” the virus at all.
US stocks fell overnight, with the S&P falling from a record start earlier in the week. It fell 0.9% to 4,668.97 and is around 1.6% off its intraday high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 320 points lower at 35,650.95. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 1.4% to 15,413.28. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 1.4% to 15,413.28.
“A growing number of companies in Europe are asking their staff to work from home as the number of cases increases. Additional research shows the lower protection of two doses of mRNA vaccines. China has also reported its first case of Omicron. This offset a more optimistic view of the OPEC oil market, “wrote ANZ Research analysts Brian Martin and Daniel Hynes in a note Tuesday.
Oil prices fell on Monday following further doubts about the variant. US crude hovered near the flat line on Tuesday during Asian hours, trading at $ 71.34 per barrel.
Investors will also likely focus on the Fed’s final two-day policy meeting, which begins on Tuesday. After Wednesday’s meeting closes, the Fed is expected to announce that it will step up the pace of scaling back its asset purchase program.
The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.317, up sharply from levels around 96.1 earlier in the week.
The Japanese yen was trading at 113.54 per dollar, weakening to around 113.2 in previous sessions. The Australian dollar was at $ 0.7131, retreating from previous levels by around $ 0.715.
– CNBC’s Chloe Taylor contributed to this report.