Asian markets slide on Covid variant jitters
The emergence of a heavily mutated new strain of Covid-19 in South Africa, labeled B.1.1.529, has sent Asian investors scurrying for the exit door. The UK has paused flights from South Africa and five other neighbouring countries. We can expect more of the same elsewhere, the complacency seen with the emergence of delta in India being a lesson harshly learned. Two cases with the new variant have already been detected in Hong Kong today. There are also media reports this morning about tightening virus restrictions in parts of China.
Equity markets are being heavily sold including US futures, with OTC markets being closed overnight for the Thanksgiving holiday. S&P 500 futures are 0.85% lower, with Nasdaq futures down 0.70% and growth-centric Dow Jones futures tumbling by 1.25%.
In Asia, the Nikkei has collapsed by 2.75% while South Korea’s Kospi is 1.10% lower. Mainland China is faring slightly better with the Shanghai Composite down 0.45%, and there CSI 300 down 0.35%. Hong Kong is suffering a double whammy today, as China property sector fears also resurface and has sent the Hang Seng into a full-on 2.15% retreat.
Regional markets are faring no better, with Singapore 1.30% lower, and Taipei falling by 0.75%. Kuala Lumpur is down 0.45% with Jakarta 0.50% lower. Manila has fallen 0.80% with Bangkok tumbling by 1.0%. The resource-heavy Australian markets are in full retreat today, as both the ASX 200 and All Ordinaries fall by over 1.30%. This despite a sparkling performance by Australia Retail Sales, which jumped 4.90% m/m for October, due to the reopenings in Melbourne and Sydney.
European markets, already under pressure from the 4th Covid-19 wave sweeping the Eurozone, are likely to feel the stress even more as the timing of a new variant of Covid-19 could not arrive at a worse time for the bloc. US markets may see some resilience in the technology/working from home sectors, but the buy-the-dippers are likely to sit today’s session out.
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