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Asian shares mostly drop on omicron concerns

omicron concerns

Nikkei 225 shed 0.8% to 27,229.97, S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.1% to 7,110.80, Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,738.42, Hang Seng dropped 0.3% to 24,501.54, while Shanghai Composite gained 2% to 3,427.81

Asian shares mostly dropped Monday, though Shanghai’s benchmark climbed after markets reopened from the Lunar New Year holidays.

Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney and Hong Kong fell despite an unexpectedly positive U.S. jobs report on Friday.

Investors were watching for moves by central banks in India, Indonesia and Thailand, which are all set to decide on monetary policy within the week.

This week brings earnings reports from some of the region’s biggest companies, including Japanese automakers. They may provide updates on shortages of computer chips and other disruptions and pressures related to the pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.8% to 27,229.97. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.1% to 7,110.80. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,738.42. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.3% to 24,501.54, while the Shanghai Composite gained 2% to 3,427.81.

Surging COVID infections in the region because of the omicron variant are also weighing on sentiment. Much of Japan is under a government-backed request for restaurants and bars to close early to slow the explosive growth in cases and hospitalization.

Although about 80% of the Japanese have gotten two coronavirus shots, only about 5% have received the booster. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce an initiative to ramp up inoculations, Japanese media reported.

Wall Street closed out a mostly upbeat week with a mixed finish. Treasury yields surged after the blowout U.S. jobs report raised investors’ expectations that the Federal Reserve may soon start raising interest rates sharply.

The S&P 500 added 0.5% to 4,500.53. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, to 35,089.74 after a last-minute burst of selling. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.6% to 14,098.01. The three indexes posted a weekly gain for the second week in a row.

Smaller stocks in the Russell 2000 gained 0.6% to 2,002.36.

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