Asian Shares Give Up Early Gains As New Covid Cases Rise

The Delta coronavirus variant has for the moment displaced inflation as investors' primary source of concern, with South Korea on Wednesday reporting a daily record of new infections.

Asian Shares Give Up Early Gains As New Covid Cases Rise

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed early gains to slip 0.14%.

Highlights

  • Asian shares gave up early gains on rising Covid cases
  • European share markets were set for a slightly higher open
  • Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 0.16 per cent

Asian shares stumbled on Wednesday, giving up early gains, while the dollar was firm as investors worried that a fast-spreading coronavirus variant could impede a global economic recovery.

But European share markets were set for a slightly higher open following sharp falls early in the week, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday that is expected to convey a dovish tone.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 0.16 per cent and German DAX futures were up 0.07 per cent. FTSE futures added 0.08 per cent.

The Delta coronavirus variant has for the moment displaced inflation as investors' primary source of concern, with South Korea on Wednesday reporting a daily record of new infections.

Last week, data showing a surge in U.S. consumer prices in June had sparked fears that the Federal Reserve could bring a quicker end to emergency stimulus measures.

The shift from a debate over whether price spikes are transitory to outright fear of the impact of the latest COVID-19 surge has pushed the U.S. 10-year yield down more than 20 basis points in the space of a week as investors have moved into safe haven assets. The S&P 500 slumped nearly 4 per cent from highs last Wednesday to lows on Monday before rebounding.

On Wednesday, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed early gains to slip 0.14 per cent, extending losses for the week to more than 2 per cent.

Seoul's KOSPI slid 0.29 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.46 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei was 0.6 per cent higher after touching six-month lows a day earlier, as investors bought cyclical stocks ahead of a long weekend that will mark the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and as a jump in exports in June boosted hopes for an export-led economic recovery.

Chinese blue-chip shares were also higher, up 0.81 per cent

"The level of volumes, the level of sporadic whip-saw price action I think is telling you that there's not a lot of conviction one way or another," said Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore.

But while he said peak global growth had likely passed, easy central bank policies continue to provide strong support for global asset prices even as they begin to flag the tapering of asset purchases.

"The G4 central banks' balance sheets have been compounding by 15 per cent since 2008. And my point is that's not going to stop. It's not going to get shut off."

U.S. Treasuries prices edged down, with the 10-year yield rising to 1.2151 per cent from the previous day's close of 1.209 per cent. The 2-year yield was at 0.2037 per cent, up from a close of 0.194 per cent.

But echoing concern in equities markets over a surge in global COVID-19 infections, the dollar stayed near three-month highs on Wednesday.

"While some of the world is shrugging off rising infections as vaccination rates limit the severity of any symptoms of new cases, there are few parts of the world that can totally ignore this," said Rob Carnell, Asia-Pacific chief economist at ING.

The dollar index was last up 0.08 per cent at 93.041, with the euro down 0.07 per cent to $1.1771. The dollar was 0.05 per cent stronger against the yen at 109.89.

Oil prices resumed their decline after a rebound on Tuesday, as an industry report showed an unexpected build-up in U.S. oil inventories.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 0.46 per cent to $66.89 per barrel and Brent traded at $69.06 per barrel, down 0.42 per cent on the day.

Spot gold shed 0.07 per cent to $1,808.84 an ounce as U.S. yields rebounded.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)