Hong Kong Capsizes on Evergrande Trade Halt

Asian markets were mixed in Monday trade, with the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong tumbling more than 2% following its return from a Friday holiday.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 tumbled 326.18 points, or 1.1%, to end Monday at 28,444.89.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.14 per U.S. dollar, stronger than levels around 112 seen against the greenback last week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng shed 539.27, or 2.2%, to 24,036.37.

Trading in shares of China Evergrande was halted, as investor concern surrounding the indebted property developer returned.

Trading in the shares of Evergrande Property Services was also halted, with the firm saying in an exchange filing that there’s an impending announcement regarding a "possible general offer for the shares of the company."

At the same time, the shares of another Chinese property developer Hopson were also suspended. Hopson said in a filing that it has halted its shares pending a "major transaction" under which it has agreed to acquire the shares of another company.

Investors continued to monitor the situation surrounding the debt worries of Evergrande, which has missed two bond interest payments in the past weeks.

Meanwhile, shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed after Merck announced its new COVID oral antiviral treatment that cuts the risk of hospitalization or death.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced Friday they’ve developed a drug which reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by around 50% in COVID patients. If authorized by regulatory bodies, the drug could be the first oral antiviral medicine for COVID.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7267 following a bounce late last week from around $0.72.

The companies plan to seek emergency authorization for the antiviral COVID treatment after the medicine showed "compelling results" in clinical trials.

Markets in Korea and mainland China were closed for holiday.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex stumbled 162.54 points, or 1%, to 16,408.35.

In Singapore, the Straits Times regained 38.54 points, or 1.3%, to 3,089.65

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 prospered 58.12 points, or 0.4%, to 13,337.27

In Australia, the ASX 200 restored 92.99 points, or 1.3%, at 7,278.54