Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as sentiment remains cautious on coronavirus risk; oil prices fall

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific slipped in Wednesday morning trade as coronavirus infections continue to rise stateside, while oil prices dipped.

Shares in mainland China were mixed in early trading, with the Shanghai composite up 0.14% while the Shenzhen component sat little changed.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.32% while the Topix index declined 0.61%. South Korea’s Kospi traded 0.12% higher.

Shares in Australia were higher, as the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded slightly lower.

Oil prices fell in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.58% to $40.55 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dropped 1.84% to $38.84 per barrel.

On the economic data front, Australia’s consumer price index rose 1.6% in the September quarter as compared to the previous quarter, according to data released Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The rise in the September quarter followed a “record fall” of 1.9% in the June 2020 quarter, according to the ABS.

Following that data release, the Australian dollar traded at $0.7134, following an earlier low of $0.7111.

Investor sentiment on Wednesday will likely be impacted by the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

“Markets remain in a cautious mood given rising hospitalisation rates may require tougher restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed,” Tapas Strickland, director of economics at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 222.19 points to close at 27,463.19. The S&P 500 slipped 0.3% to finish its trading day at 3,390.68. The Nasdaq Composite bucked the negative trend as it gained 0.6% to close at 11,431.35.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, sat at 93.108 after seeing levels around 92.8 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.44 per dollar, having strengthened from levels around 105 against the greenback this week.

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