SINGAPORE — Markets across Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as U.S. stocks fell overnight. It came as the World Health Organization warned that the omicron variant is spreading faster than any previous strain.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.12% in early trade, while the Topix rose 0.48%.
South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.26% while in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.28%.
China is due to release some economic data on Wednesday morning, including industrial production and retail sales numbers.
In listings, Chinese biotech firm BeiGene is set to debut in Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style board Star Market. The company is already listed in Hong Kong and the Nasdaq in the U.S.
U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as some large tech stocks moved lower and new inflation data continued to show a sharp rise in prices.
The Nasdaq Composite led the decline, falling 1.14% to 15,237.64. The S&P 500 slid 0.75% to close at 4,634.09. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held up better than its counterparts but still fell 106.77 points, or 0.30%, to 35,544.18.
The Fed will conclude its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday later stateside, and central bank Chair Jerome Powell is set to speak at a 2:30 p.m. ET press conference.
Omicron fears hitting oil prices
Investor sentiment is set to remain cautious after the World Health Organization on Tuesday warned the new Covid omicron variant is spreading faster than any previous strain, saying that the variant is probably present in most countries of the world.
Meanwhile, oil prices dropped after the International Energy Agency said demand for oil is set to be lower than expected next year, hit by the new omicron variant.
“Oil prices fell overnight after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that oil markets have returned to surplus this month and that surplus will deepen early next year,” said Vivek Dhar, director of mining and energy commodities research at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
“The group’s forecast is predicated on weaker demand linked to the omicron variant of COVID-19, as well as stronger oil production from OPEC+, the US, Canada and Brazil,” he wrote in a Wednesday note.
Crude prices continue to fall during Asia hours. U.S. crude dipped 0.48% to $70.4 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.571, continuing its spike from levels above 96.3 previously.
The Japanese yen traded at 113.76 per dollar, as it continued to weaken from levels around 113.5. The Australian dollar was little changed at 0.7106.
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