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Asia stock markets follow Wall Street lower

Wall Street lower

Hang Seng Index declined 0.27 percent to 24,188.24, Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.57 percent; while Seoul, Taipei, and Wellington, Singapore, were all down marginally

Stock markets in Asia opened mainly down on Friday after a negative lead from Wall Street as investors awaited the release of a key US inflation report later in the day.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong declined 0.27 percent to 24,188.24, while the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo dropped 0.57 percent.

Shanghai has also taken a hit. Seoul, Taipei, and Wellington, as well as Singapore, were all down marginally in Asia on Friday.

Investors were particularly concerned about China’s property sector’s debt crisis.

Two big Chinese property firms have defaulted on $1.6 billion in bonds owed to foreign creditors, according to Fitch Ratings. Fitch said Evergrande has defaulted on more than $1.2 billion in bond obligations for the first time, downgrading the company’s position to a limited default rating.

European and US financial markets fell the day before as traders followed developments concerning the Omicron variant of coronavirus and the consequences from China’s property crisis.

This put an end to a three-day run that had sent Wall Street back to near-record levels.

Despite statistics revealing that new registrations for US unemployment help dropped dramatically this week, falling to levels not seen since 1969 for the second time this year, the Dow ended flat. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 both declined.

Traders were looking forward to the release of the latest US consumer pricing data on Friday, which is expected to indicate that inflation rose last month.

A Federal Reserve meeting next week could provide insight on the pace of tapering and interest rate hikes.

In a note released Thursday, Morgan Stanley economists and strategists said that key Fed figures have signalled a hawkish shift in their policy stance, catalyzed by increasing discomfort with elevated inflation against a backdrop of robust growth and ongoing strengthening in labour market conditions.

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