Markets

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index Drops About 5% as Investors Monitor China's Covid Wave

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  • Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday.
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 4.97% on the day, leading losses among the region's major markets as Chinese tech stocks took a beating.
  • China is currently undergoing a wave of Covid infections — its worst outbreak since the country clamped down on the pandemic in 2020 — and places including the major city of Shenzhen are rushing to limit business activity.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Monday as investors monitored a Covid wave in China. Meanwhile, oil prices continued to be volatile amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 4.97% on the day to 19,531.66, leading losses among the region's major markets as Chinese tech stocks took a beating: Tencent fell 9.79%, Alibaba slipped 10.9% and Meituan plunged 16.84%. The Hang Seng Tech index tumbled 11.03% to 3,778.60.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, with the Shanghai composite down 2.6% to 3,223.53 while the Shenzhen component shed 3.083% to 12,063.63.

China is currently undergoing a wave of Covid infections — its worst outbreak since the country clamped down on the pandemic in 2020, and major cities including Shenzhen are rushing to limit business activity. Across Shenzhen's border, the special administrative region of Hong Kong has also been battling a resurgence in Covid cases in recent weeks.

"China is experiencing the largest wave of COVID since the end of national lockdown in March 2020," ANZ Research's Raymond Yeung and Zhaopeng Xing wrote in a Monday note.

"If the lockdown is extended, China's economic growth will be significantly affected. It is too early for us to change our GDP growth forecast (5.0%) for 2022 , but we are wary of the impact of a partial lockdown in the economically rich provinces," they said.

Shares of Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, slipped 0.97% as the major Apple supplier announced Monday it has suspended operations in China's Shenzhen city to comply with local Covid restrictions, according to Reuters. Taiwan's Taiex finished the trading day little changed at 17,263.04.

South Korea's Kospi also dipped 0.85%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 climbed 0.58% to close at 25,307.85 while the Topix index advanced 0.71% to 1,812.28. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia gained 1.21% to 7,149.40.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 2.07%.

Oil prices fall more than 2%

Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 2.24% to $110.15 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 2.86% to $106.20 per barrel.

Oil prices during the Russia-Ukraine conflict have spiked to record levels but fell back last week on supply hopes, before rising again to close out the week. Over in Asia, China, India, Japan and South Korea are all major importers of oil, according to 2020 data from the International Energy Agency.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce a rate hike later this week, the first such move since 2018.

In Asia, the Bank of Japan is also set to announce its monetary policy decision later in the week.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.004 after its recent bounce from below 98.

The Japanese yen traded at 117.79 per dollar after last week's weakening from below 116 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.7246 after slipping from above $0.732 late last week.

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