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Asian Shares Retreat Amid Virus Surge

stockmarkets jan23 27oct20 lt

Asian stocks fell on Tuesday as record daily jumps in coronavirus infections in the United States, Russia and France coupled with fading hopes for U.S. stimulus added to a gloomy economic outlook.

Chinese shares ended flat with a positive bias as investors awaited the outcome of a key policy meeting of the ruling Communist Party this week, where top leaders will set economic and social priorities. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.5 percent to 24,787.19.

Japanese shares ended little changed as earnings optimism offset worries over a resurgence in coronavirus infections. The Nikkei 225 Index fell over 1 percent in early trading before ending the session marginally lower at 23,485.80. The broader Topix index closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,617.53.

Japan Airlines slumped 4.3 percent on a Nikkei report that it was likely to post a record net loss of about 230 billion yen ($2.20 billion) for the business year ending March 2021. ANA Holdings lost 3.2 percent.

Canon shares surged 8 percent. The camera and copy machine maker raised its financial outlook for fiscal 2020 despite reporting a 37 percent decrease in third-quarter profit.

Similarly, legal portal service operator Bengo4.com jumped 7.5 percent after posting upbeat quarterly results.

Australian markets hit a three-week low as soaring global coronavirus cases and signs that talks over a U.S. coronavirus relief package have slowed dented investor sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 104.60 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,051, extending losses for the fourth straight session. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 110.10 points, or 1.7 percent, at 6,247.20.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto dropped over 2 percent, while energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search all fell over 3 percent.

Building materials supplier Boral edged up slightly after announcing a 50 percent stake sale in USG Boral to Germany's Gebr Knauf for A$1.43 billion ($1.02 billion).

Seoul stocks ended lower for the second straight session amid concerns over a global resurgence in Covid-19 cases and anxiety ahead of the U.S. presidential election. The benchmark Kospi slid 13.07 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,330.84.

Investors ignored data showing that the country's GDP grew a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent sequentially in the third quarter of 2020. That beat estimates for an increase of 1.7 percent following the 3.2 percent decline in the three months prior.

New Zealand shares tumbled, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending down 218.43 points, or 1.8 percent, at 12,251.91 as confirmed Covid-19 cases crossed the 43 million mark globally.

Financials and utilities paced the decliners. A stronger kiwi dollar weighed on exporters, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Kathmandu Holdings falling 3-4 percent.

New Zealand posted a merchandise trade deficit of NZ$1.0 billion in September, Statistics New Zealand said today - following the NZ$353 million shortfall in August. Exports sank 8.0 percent from last year, while imports were down 11.0 percent.

U.S. stocks tumbled overnight as rising Covid-19 cases, disappointing housing data and diminishing prospects for a U.S. stimulus deal added to worries about the economic outlook.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows argued that the pandemic could not be controlled and suggested the administration would focus on vaccines and therapeutics.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2.3 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 1.6 percent and the S&P 500 gave up 1.9 percent.

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