Asian stocks fell on Friday, as mixed regional data and fears of a fresh surge in coronavirus infection rates in the region, particularly in India and Japan, overshadowed signs that the U.S. economic recovery has picked up speed.
Chinese shares fell as regulators imposed wide-ranging restrictions on the financial divisions of 13 companies, including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and ByteDance Ltd., in an antitrust crackdown.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended down 28.04 points, or 0.8 percent, at 3,446.86, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 578.38 points, or 2 percent, to 28,724.88.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in April, albeit at a pace, the National Bureau of Statistics, said with a manufacturing PMI score of 51.1. That missed expectations for a score of 51.7 and was down from 51.9 in March.
However, the Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to a four-month high of 51.9 in April from an 11-month low of 50.6 in March.
Japanese shares fell as investors grew more worried about COVID-19 amid rising new infections in Tokyo and Osaka. Japan’s nationwide tally of new infections climbed to 5,918 on Thursday, the highest since the second state of emergency was completely lifted in late March.
The Nikkei 225 Index slid 241.34 points, or 0.8 percent, to 28,812.63, while the broader Topix closed 0.6 percent lower at 1,898.24.
Z Holdings shares plunged 7.2 percent after the internet company’s profit forecasts for the current fiscal year disappointed. Similarly, Sony plummeted 7.7 percent after it forecast profit to fall. Murata Manufacturing tumbled 3.6 percent after its forecasts came in below estimates.
In economic news, Japan’s industrial output posted a surprise increase in March and the jobless rate fell from the previous month, while Tokyo consumer prices fell unexpectedly in April, separate reports showed.
Australian markets fell sharply, dragged down by energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 56.50 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,025.80 after hitting a 14-month high the previous day. The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 55.30 points, or 0.8 percent, at 7,290.70.
Beach Energy shares plummeted 24 percent after the oil and gas producer said it undertook an urgent review of its reserves across the Western Flank oil and gas fields in Australia.
Santos lost 1 percent after completing its stake sale in Bayu-Undan and Darwin LNG projects. Gold miners Evolution, Newcrest and Northern Star Resources gave up 2-3 percent after higher U.S. Treasury yields weighed on gold prices overnight.
In the healthcare sector, ResMed tumbled 4.2 percent after it slipped to a loss in the first quarter. Lender ANZ shed 0.7 percent after it warned of a profit hit in the first half from its exposure to Malaysia’s 1MBD scandal.
Mesoblast surged 6.8 percent after trial data showed the company’s remestemcel-L drug reduced mortality in COVID-19 patients under the age of 65.
In economic news, private sector credit in the country climbed 0.4 percent month-on-month in March after rising 0.2 percent in February, central bank data showed.
Seoul stocks ended lower for the fourth straight session as virus worries persisted and the latest economic readings proved to be a mixed bag. The lifting of a ban on stock short selling also raised uncertainties.
The benchmark Kospi fell 26.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,147.86 as the government extended social distancing rules by three more weeks ahead of holidays next month. Naver, LG Chem, Hyundai Motor and Kakao fell 2-3 percent.
Industrial production in South Korea fell a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent sequentially in March, Statistics Korea said. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.1 percent following the upwardly revised 4.4 percent jump in February.
Another report showed the value of retail sales in the country rose a seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent month-on-month in March. That beat expectations for a gain of 1.5 percent following the 0.8 percent contraction in February.
New Zealand shares ended a choppy session slightly higher, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index finishing up 15.93 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,731.13.
U.S. stocks rose overnight as traders digested upbeat economic data and strong earnings from tech giants Apple and Facebook.
U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter and more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March, while initial jobless claims dropped to a new pandemic-era low in the week ended April 24th, separate reports showed.
The S&P 500 climbed 0.7 percent to hit a new record closing high, while the Dow gained 0.7 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.2 percent.
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