SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly lower Friday as worries surrounding the spread of the delta variant again took center stage.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.7% to 27,082.20 and Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.6% to 3,078.71. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 1.5% to 24,936.15.
The Shanghai Composite Index gave up 1.2% to 3,423.08. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added under 0.1% to 7,467.10, however. Benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia rose while New Zealand’s fell.
Traders are watching mounting infections around the world, including in New Zealand, which is in lockdown after reporting its first outbreak in six months.
“With the number of COVID-19 infections on the rise, especially in the U.S., the threat from the delta variant is becoming more apparent spurring cautious risk sentiment,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank.
Wall Street closed out another choppy day of trading on Thursday. The benchmark S&P 500 started the day in the red before gaining 0.1% to 4,405.80.
The Nasdaq composite also inched 0.1% higher to 14,541.79. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 34,894.12. All three indices were positioned for weekly losses.
Positive earnings reports from retailers lifted sentiment. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported another weekly drop in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.