Asia Mostly Falls Amid Omicron Concern

Major Asia-Pacific markets fell on Tuesday as investors in the region continued to track developments surrounding the omicron variant.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 tumbled 462.16 points, or 1.6%, to 27,821.76.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency, strengthened to 113.13 per U.S. dollar as compared with levels around 113.9 seen earlier against the greenback.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng lost 376.98 points, or 1.6%, to 23,475.26.

Major markets in the region fell after Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times that he expects existing vaccines to be less effective against the new variant. Bancel told the media on Monday that it could take months to develop and ship an omicron specific vaccine.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7121, still struggling to recover after last week’s drop from above $0.725.


In China, the CSI 300 withered 19.39 points, or 0.4%, to 4,832.03

Data released Tuesday showed Chinese factory activity unexpectedly growing in November, with China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for November coming in at 50.1. That was above expectations by analysts in a Reuters poll for a reading of 49.6.

PMI readings below 50 represent contraction while those above that level signify expansion. PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex defied the trend and gained 99.67 points, or 0.6%, to 17,427.76

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dipped 79.29 points, or 2.5%, to 3,041.29

In Korea, the Kospi index deleted 70.31 points, or 2.4%, to 2,839.01

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 surged 187.25 points, or 1.5%, to 12,718.91

In Australia, the ASX 200 advanced 16.15 points, or 1.7%, at 7,279.35