Pandemic Concerns Weigh, Asia Mostly Falls

Stocks in Asia-Pacific largely fell on Wednesday as a surge in coronavirus cases in countries like India weighed on the economic outlook and investor sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 retreated another 591.83 points, or 2%, to 28,505.55.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.04 per U.S. dollar, still stronger than levels above 109.2 against the greenback seen last week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index tanked 513.81 points, or 1.8%, to 28,621.92.

In Hong Kong, shares of China Eastern Airlines fell 1.9% and Cathay Pacific slipped 2.1% in afternoon trade. Singapore Airlines’ stock also shed 1.6%.

Australia’s retail sales rose 1.4% in March from February, according to preliminary data released Wednesday by the country’s Bureau of Statistics. That was higher than expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1% gain.

Reopening plays like airlines mostly fell, with shares of Qantas Airways in Australia dropping 1.4% while ANA Holdings in Japan declined 0.41%. Japan Airlines, however, gained 0.66%.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7718, lower than levels above $0.777 seen yesterday.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 regained 15.38 points, or 0.3%, to 5,098.75

In Singapore, the Straits Times index subtracted 37.11 points, or 1.2%, to 3,155.08.

In Korea, the Kospi index backtracked 49.04 points, or 1.5%, to 3,171.66.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index slouched 121.76 points, or 0.7%, to 17,202.11

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 ditched 143.21 points, or 1.1%, to 12,535.34.

In Australia, the ASX 200 retreated 20.28 points, or 0.3%, to 6,997.48.