Asia Markets

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index falls into correction territory as Asia-Pacific stocks largely decline

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Key Points
  • The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was one of the biggest losers among the region's major markets as it closed 2.03% lower at 27,918.14. Wednesday's losses left the index in correction territory as it was more than 10% lower than the 52-week high touched in mid-February.
  • The World Health Organization said earlier this week that many regions globally are seeing an increase in new Covid-19 cases.

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were largely lower on Wednesday as concerns over the world's recovery from the pandemic weighed on investor sentiment.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was one of the biggest losers among the region's major markets, closing 2.03% lower at 27,918.14. Wednesday's losses left the index in correction territory as it was more than 10% lower than the 52-week high set in mid-February.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 2.04% to close at 28,405.52 while the Topix index declined 2.18% to finish its trading day at 1,928.58.

Mainland Chinese stocks also fell on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 1.3% to 3,367.06 while the Shenzhen component shed 1.469% to 13,407.35.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi slid 0.28% to finish its trading day at 2,996.35.

Shares in Australia bucked the overall trend regionally as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to close at 6,778.80.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 1.22%.

Many regions globally are seeing an increase in new Covid-19 cases as highly contagious variants continue to spread, the World Health Organization said earlier this week. In Europe, authorities continue to struggle with the virus as the region battles a third Covid wave.

Stocks on the move

In corporate developments, shares of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group in Hong Kong plunged 4.83%. The moves came after Hong Kong and Macao announced they were suspending BioNTech Covid vaccinations. Fosun Pharma is BioNTech's partner in the development and distribution of the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine in greater China.

Chinese tech juggernaut Tencent's stock in Hong Kong slipped 0.8% on Wednesday. Reuters reported, citing people with direct knowledge, that the firm's founder met with China's antitrust watchdog officials this month to discuss compliance at his group.

In Taiwan, shares of chipmaking powerhouse Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company declined 3.03%. That came after Intel announced it will spend $20 billion to build two new chip factories in Arizona.

Meanwhile, Chinese streaming company Bilibili announced Tuesday that it will raise 20.2 billion Hong Kong dollars (about $2.6 billion) in its upcoming Hong Kong secondary listing after pricing its shares at 808 Hong Kong dollars each. Shares of Bilibili are expected to begin trading in Hong Kong on Monday.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 declined 0.76% to close at 3,910.52 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 308.05 points to finish its trading day at 32,423.15. The Nasdaq Composite closed 1.12% lower at 13,227.70.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.593 following a rise from levels below 91.8 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.59 per dollar, as compared to levels around 108.9 against the greenback seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7601 after declining yesterday from above $0.768.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.6% to $61.76 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 1.66% to $58.72 per barrel.