Asian Stocks Trend Down on Pandemic Pressure, U.S.-China Tensions

Asian Stocks Trend Down on Pandemic Pressure, U.S.-China Tensions

By Alfred Romann – Asia Pacific stocks were mixed Tuesday morning after key U.S. benchmarks broke a four-day winning streak during the Monday session overnight.

Rising COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Germany and South Korea weighed on investors and overshadowed news that the U.K. would start vaccinating people Tuesday and that the U.S. would likely follow suit later this week.

Markets in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong all fell during the morning session while markets in China were mixed and Australia was marginally higher.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.30% by 9:15 PM ET (2:15 AM GMT) while South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.79%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.22%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.56% shortly after the opening of the morning session.

China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.21% while the tech-heavy Shenzhen Component was up 0.33%

Pressuring stocks was news of renewed tensions between the U.S. and China, with the former preparing to impose sanctions on more than a dozen Chinese officials in relation to their activities to curb dissent in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.

The ratcheting up of tensions overshadowed a strong recovery in Chinese foreign trade. Data released Monday suggested Chinese exports in November jumped by the most since early 2018 and pushed the country’s trade surplus to a record monthly high. Exports jumped more than 21% from the same month in 2019. Imports, on the other hand, grew just 4.5%.

In the U.S., the S&P 500 fell off all-time highs on Monday as new lockdowns took effect in parts of the U.S., including California. However, the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose for the ninth day in a row.

Markets are now looking to the increasing likelihood that the U.S. government will agree to a new stimulus deal that could be worth more than $900 billion, in particular after jobs data out Monday was disappointing and suggested the economic rebound from the pandemic is beginning to slow.

The U.S. government is also negotiating a deal on a government spending deal. Without a deal, the government would be forced to shut down. The original deadline to reach a spending deal was Friday but negotiators appeared ready to extend that deadline.

Original Article

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