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Greater China stocks fall as Covid concerns resurge; Asia-Pacific markets fall


SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific shares slipped on Wednesday despite Wall Street recovering most of its losses by the close. Oil futures rose after plunging overnight.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell about 1% and the Topix index slipped 1.09%.

In South Korea, the Kospi declined 0.74%, but the Kosdaq gained 0.82%.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was fractionally lower.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.24% lower.

There is no doubt that recession is the biggest issue markets are currently grappling with.
Ben Snider
Senior strategist, Goldman Sachs

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.44% in early trade.

Mainland China markets also fell. The Shanghai Composite shed 0.55%, and the Shenzhen Component lost 0.29%.

Shanghai will be conducting mass testing in several districts after Covid cases were detected earlier this week, a statement on the city’s WeChat account said.

Some 11 cities in China were restricting local movement as of Monday, up from five cities a week earlier, according to Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura.

U.S. stock indexes initially fell sharply on Tuesday stateside before rallying in the afternoon. The Nasdaq Composite ended the session 1.75% higher at 11,322.24, while the S&P 500 was up 0.16% at 3,831.39.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 129.44 points, or 0.4%.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield and the 2-year yield inverted on Tuesday in the U.S., a closely watched measure that signals recession. Longer duration yields are usually higher than shorter duration yields. But the 2-year yield was last at 2.8469, above the 10-year yield of 2.8418.

“There is no doubt that recession is the biggest issue markets are currently grappling with, both equity, fixed income and frankly commodity markets as well,” Ben Snider, a senior strategist at Goldman Sachs, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday.

In central bank news, Bank Negara Malaysia is expected to release its monetary policy statement today. Analysts polled by Reuters expect the bank to raise rates by 25 basis points.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 106.464, jumping from below 105.3 earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 135.2 per dollar, strengthening from more than 136 against the greenback on Tuesday. The Australian dollar rose slightly to $0.6809 after falling against the stronger U.S. dollar.

“The deteriorating global economy is the main weight on AUD,” Kristina Clifton, an economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a note Wednesday.

In Asia’s morning trade, oil futures pared gains but still traded higher. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.82% at $100.32. Brent crude rose 1.14% to $103.94.

The U.S. oil benchmark plunged as much as 10%, breaking the $100 level on Tuesday stateside before settling 8.24% lower at $99.50 on the back of recession fears.

International benchmark Brent crude settled 9.45%, or $10.73, lower at $102.77 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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