Asia Markets

South Korea stocks lead losses regionally as concerns rise over coronavirus resurgence

Key Points
  • South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Tuesday that concerns are rising over a potential "massive outbreak" of coronavirus cases in the country.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia said there was "no need to adjust the package of measures in Australia in the current environment," according to meeting minutes released Tuesday.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump's administration announced Monday a further tightening of restrictions on Huawei, aimed at limiting the Chinese telecommunications giant's access to commercially available chips. 

Shares in South Korea led losses regionally in a mixed trading day for Asia Pacific stocks.

The Kospi fell 2.46% to close at 2,348.24, with shares of automaker Hyundai Motor plunging 5.39%.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that concerns are rising over a potential "massive outbreak" of coronavirus cases. The country confirmed 246 more Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday midnight local time, according to the daily update from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, mainland Chinese stocks edged higher on the day. The Shanghai composite added 0.36% to about 3,451.09 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.189% to around 13,768.17.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed fractionally higher at 25,367.38.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.2% to close at 23,051.08 while the Topix index ended its trading day slightly higher at 1,610.85.

Shares in Australia edged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.77% to close at 6,123.40. The Reserve Bank of Australia said there was "no need to adjust the package of measures in Australia in the current environment," according to meeting minutes released Tuesday.

"Board members recognised that the substantial, coordinated and unprecedented easing of fiscal and monetary policy in Australia was helping to sustain the economy through this difficult period," the minutes said.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index advanced 0.26%.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing likely continued to weigh on investor sentiment. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration announced Monday a further tightening of restrictions on Huawei, aimed at limiting the Chinese telecommunications giant's access to commercially available chips. 

That development came after Trump issued an executive order Friday forcing China's ByteDance to sell or spin off its U.S. TikTok business within 90 days. A source told CNBC that enterprise software giant Oracle is in talks to acquire TikTok's U.S., Canadian, Australian and New Zealand assets. The interest from Oracle puts it at odds with Microsoft, which has been in talks to acquire the same TikTok assets for more than a month.

"This step-up in US antagonism towards Chinese tech sector may have further to run given Trump is on record warning of more Chinese tech firms (including Alibaba) in the cross-hairs," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a note.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.549 after seeing an earlier high of 92.821.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.54 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 106.4 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7236 after yesterday's rise from below $0.72.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up about 0.1% at $45.41 per barrel. U.S. crude futures, on the other hand, dipped fractionally to $42.86 per barrel.