Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday, as rising cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus as well as growing worries about China’s crackdown on local tech companies offset investor optimism that the U.S. Federal Reserve would adhere to its accommodative policies.
Chinese shares ended modestly higher after a survey showed the country’s service sector expanded at a much slower pace in June. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index dropped 15.56 points, or 0.44 percent, to 3,534.32.
The Caixin services Purchasing Managers’ Index fell notably to 50.3 in June from 55.1 in May as the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases and reduced travel dampened overall new business.
The composite output index that measures the overall performance of manufacturing and services, slipped to 50.6 in June from 53.8 in May.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 166.92 points, or 0.59 percent, to 28,143.50 on concerns about Beijing’s push to curb the influence of the nation’s largest technology companies.
Japanese shares fell to hit a two-week low, as coronavirus cases in Tokyo hit a five-week high and reports suggested that the government is potentially keeping the quasi-state of emergency covering Tokyo in place during the Summer Olympics.
A disappointing showing by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a local election on Sunday also added to concerns about the upcoming general election.
The Nikkei average dropped 185.09 points, or 0.64 percent, to 28,598.19 while the broader Topix index ended 0.37 percent lower at 1,948.99.
Cyclicals bore the brunt of the selling, with steelmaker JFE Holdings plunging 4 percent and Nippon Steel ending down 3.5 percent.
Heavyweight Softbank Group plummeted 5.4 percent as Chinese regulators ordered smartphone app stores to stop offering Didi Global Inc’s app after finding that it had illegally collected users’ personal data. Didi is one of SoftBank’s biggest bets in China.
Australian markets gave up early gains to end marginally higher for the day.
Sydney Airport Holdings jumped almost 34 percent after it received a takeover offer of $16.7 billion from a consortium of infrastructure investors.
Gold miner Newcrest rose over 1 percent and Chalice Mining soared as much as 12 percent as spot gold held steady after having hit its highest since June 18 at $1,794.86 on Friday.
Energy stocks such as Santos and Woodside Petroleum climbed 2-3 percent as investors awaited crucial talks by OPEC+.
The big four banks fell between 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia meeting on Tuesday, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ended narrowly mixed.
Seoul stocks rebounded from two-days of losses amid optimism for strong corporate earnings in the second quarter.
The benchmark Kospi rose 11.43 points, or 0.35 percent, to 3,293.21 despite daily new virus cases in the country staying in the 700s for the third day in a row.
Tech large caps Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics ended up half a percent and 2.1 percent, respectively ahead of their quarterly earnings guidance this week.
New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark NZX 50 index climbing 100.48 points, or 0.79 percent, to 12,812.32, led by industrial and consumer stocks.
Auckland International Airport shares surged 5.4 percent after a multi-billion takeover offer for Sydney Airport.
U.S. stocks closed at new record highs on Friday after data showed non-farm payroll employment jumped by a bigger-than-expected 850,000 jobs in June, although the unemployment rate unexpectedly inched up to 5.9 percent from 5.8 percent in May.
The Dow rose 0.4 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index and the S&P 500 both gained around 0.8 percent.
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