SINGAPORE – Stocks in Asia-Pacific fell on Monday morning as investors monitor developments surrounding the recently discovered omicron Covid variant.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 0.73% in morning trading while the Topix index lost 1.17%. South Korean Kospi lost 0.37%.
Australian stocks also fell, with the S & P / ASX 200 falling 0.42%.
The MSCI’s largest Asia-Pacific stock index outside of Japan traded down 0.12%.
Elsewhere, US stock futures rose after Friday’s sell-off, with US investors also on the lookout for the latest developments related to the omicron variant.
Global markets fell late last week as the World Health Organization (WHO) called the omicron strain of Covid a “variant of concern.” In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan and Hang Seng in Hong Kong both fell more than 2% on Friday.
“Things will definitely be a bit riskier in the future,” John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday.
“This variant, it seems, may not be as bad as the market thought it would be on Friday, but it still needs to eliminate some of the excessive risk-taking and perhaps some of the risk-taking. binge drinking around the world too. people are getting a little more careful, “said Vail.
The WHO said in a statement on Sunday that it was still not clear whether infection with the omicron Covid variant causes more severe disease compared to other strains, including delta.
Oil and bitcoin prices rebound
Oil prices were higher on the morning of trading hours in Asia.
International benchmark Brent crude futures rose 4.19% to $ 75.77 per barrel. US crude futures gained 4.8% to $ 71.42 per barrel. Oil had its worst day of 2021 on Friday amid renewed Covid fears.
Spot gold was trading at $ 1,790.75 an ounce, after falling more than $ 1,800 at the end of last week.
The Japanese yen, widely regarded as a safe haven currency, traded at 113.75 per dollar after strongly strengthening late last week above 114.8 against the greenback.
The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.192 after falling recently from above 96.4.
The Australian dollar changed hands to $ 0.7136, after falling above $ 0.725 last week.
Bitcoin prices were also higher, recovering after falling on Friday. The cryptocurrency was up 5.78% and trading at $ 57,779.45 at 7:32 p.m. ET on Sunday, according to data from Coin Metrics.