Asian markets lower on virus worries after Wall Street slips

BEIJING (AP) — European stocks opened higher yesterday while Asian markets declined as jitters about the spread of the coronavirus’s delta variant in China and the United States (US) dented enthusiasm about strong corporate profits.

London and Frankfurt advanced while Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong fell.

Wall Street futures were higher after the benchmark S&P 500 index closed lower on Monday, weighed down by declines for tech, energy, industrial and communications stocks.

Investors were encouraged by unexpectedly strong US earnings but are more uneasy as China, the US and other governments try to stop the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

“Concerns (are) rising once again that the global recovery could be thrown off track by the virus,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

“What is spooking markets is China,” Halley said. “It’s not a huge reach to extrapolate even more supply chain disruptions, especially if it proves as elusive to control for Chinese authorities as it has to officials globally.”

People walk past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange yesterday. PHOTO: AP

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.3 per cent to 7,103.62 and the DAX in Frankfurt added under 0.1 per cent to 15,579.92. The CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.8 per cent to 6,727.16.

On Wall Street, the future for the S&P 500 index was up 0.3 per cent. That for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.4 per cent higher.

On Monday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 per cent while the Dow dropped 0.3 per cent. The Nasdaq composite added 0.1 per cent.

A slide in technology, industrial, raw materials and communication companies weighed on the market. Energy stocks also fell in tandem with crude oil prices. Gains by health care stocks, utilities and a variety of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending helped keep the losses in check.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5 per cent to 3,447.99 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 0.5 per cent to 27,641.83. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 0.2 per cent lower at 26,194.82.

The Kospi in South Korea gained 0.4 per cent to 3,237.14 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was off 0.2 per cent at 7,474.50.

India’s Sensex rose 1.1 per cent to 53,516.34. New Zealand and Singapore declined while Bangkok and Indonesia gained.

Investors looked ahead to US employment data due out on Friday for indications of whether hiring has held up.

On Monday, US markets appeared to shrug off a report by the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, that manufacturing slowed in July. Many companies are being held back by supply chain disruptions.

Also this week, some 150 companies in the S&P 500 are due to report results.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude rose 32 cents to USD71.58 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract fell USD2.69 to USD71.26. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, added 30 cents to USD73.19 per barrel in London. It tumbled USD2.52 the previous session to USD72.89 a barrel.

The dollar declined to JPY109.16 from Monday’s JPY109.25. The euro gained to USD1.1882 from USD1.1874.