Asian shares fall on COVID-19 spread, Wall Street declines

Asian shares fall on COVID-19 spread, Wall Street declines


TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares fell across the board Monday, as pessimism took hold following rising COVID-19 infections regionally and Wall Street's first weekly loss following three weeks of gains.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 shed nearly 1.2% in early trading to 27,677.60. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.9% to 3,247.68. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1.2% to 7,261.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.6% to 27,561.41, while the Shanghai Composite edged down 0.5% to 3,523.01.

“Asia stocks look set for a weak start,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG. “This comes as investors look beyond positive catalysts such as corporate earnings outperformance, focusing on several risk factors," such as higher inflation and more COVID-19 cases.

Outbreaks are growing in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as parts of Japan, including Tokyo, where the Olympics are set to open Friday. The first cases among athletes in the Olympic Village were confirmed Sunday.

“The more transmissible delta variant is delaying the recovery for the ASEAN economies and pushing them further into the doldrums,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya, at Mizuho Bank in Singapore, referring to Southeast Asian nations.

A good part of the pullback on Wall Street was attributable to declines in big technology stocks, like Apple and Amazon, as well as banks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Energy and industrial stocks also helped drag the market down, outweighing gains in health care and utilities companies.

The S&P 500 fell 32.87 points, or 0.8%, to 4,327.16. It ended the week with a 1% loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 299.17 points, or 0.9%, to 34,687.85. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slid 115.90 points, or 0.8%, to 14,427.24.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fared...

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