Asia Markets

South Korea drops 3% as Asia-Pacific stocks slip

Key Points
  • South Korea's Kospi led losses among the region's major indexes on Friday as it fell about 3%.
  • Biotech firm Novavax said that its coronavirus vaccine was more than 89% effective in protecting against Covid-19.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were lower in Friday trade, with South Korea's Kospi leading losses among the region's major markets.

By the Friday market close in South Korea, the Kospi fell 3.03% to 2,976.21. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.89% to close at 27,663.39 while the Topix index slipped 1.64% to finish its trading day at 1,808.78.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also lower on the day: The Shanghai composite fell 0.63% to 3,483.07 while the Shenzhen component slipped 0.612% to 14,821.99. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined 0.94% to close at 28,283.71.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was down 0.64% to close at 6,607.40.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares declined 1.12%.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.98% to close at 3,787.38 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 300.19 points to finish its trading day at 30,603.36. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.5% to close at 13,337.16.

On the coronavirus front, biotech firm Novavax said that its vaccine was more than 89% effective in protecting against Covid-19.

A study found that the vaccine appeared to be 85.6% effective against the U.K. variant. A separate phase two study in South Africa, however, showed the vaccine isn't nearly as effective against a new strain ravaging that country. Shares of the company were up more than 23% in after-hours trading.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 101.25 million people while at least 2.18 million lives have been taken, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.732 after rising from levels below 90.3 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.57 per dollar, having weakened from levels below 104 against the greenback earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7643 after falling below $0.762 yesterday.

Oil prices dipped in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures 0.32% lower at $55.35 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.69% to $51.98 per barrel.

— CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.