Asian Shares Slide As Virus Worries Linger

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Asian stocks fell broadly on Tuesday as worries about the impact of the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus variant weighed on sentiment.

Traders also awaited U.S. retail sales figures, remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the minutes from the Fed's latest meeting for clues on the economic and interest rate outlook.

Chinese shares fell sharply as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler issued his most direct warning yet about the risks of investing in Chinese companies. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plunged 70.37 points, or 2 percent, to finish at 3,446.98.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 435.59 points, or 1.7 percent, to 25,745.87. Internet stocks fell after China's market regulator issued draft rules aimed at stopping unfair competition on the internet.

Japanese shares fell for the fourth straight session as concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus overshadowed strong financial results from heavyweights including Tokyo Electron.

The government is set to extend COVID-19 emergency control measures to more areas and into September to suppress the fifth wave of infections, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The Nikkei 225 Index slipped 98.72 points, or 0.4 percent, to finish at 27,424.47, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent lower at 1,915.63.

Tokyo Electron shares closed 0.7 percent lower after climbing around 3 percent earlier in the day as the company upwardly revised its earnings outlook. Shippers rallied, with Kawasaki Kisen shares climbing 3.5 percent.

Australian markets ended lower after minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's August monetary policy meeting stated that the recent outbreaks of the Delta variant had introduced a high degree of uncertainty to the outlook for the second half of 2021.

With the country's largest cities currently under lockdown, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 71.50 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,511. The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 76.30 points, or 1 percent, at 7,773.70.

Appliance maker Breville plunged 9 percent, while property listings firm Domain Holdings surged 4.7 percent after unveiling their financial results.

BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto lost 1-2 percent as copper prices declined following disappointing economic data from China.

Westpac declined 1.3 percent after the lender said it would consider returning capital to shareholders with its full-year results.

Seoul stocks closed lower for the eighth consecutive session as disappointing Chinese economic data raised concerns about a slowdown in the global economic recovery. The benchmark Kospi slid 28.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,143.09.

Internet portal operator Naver and automaker Hyundai Motor both fell about 1.8 percent, while pharmaceutical giant Samsung Biologics rallied 3 percent.

New Zealand shares ended notably lower as the RBNZ rate decision loomed and the country recorded its first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 in six months.
The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 84.83 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,635.32.

Electricity retailer Mercury ended down more than 1 percent, reversing early gains after forecasting higher core earnings for fiscal 2022.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as disappointing Chinese data and new figures showing significantly slower growth in New York manufacturing activity spurred concerns over global growth. Geopolitical concerns following the collapse of the Afghanistan government added to the woes.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both rose about 0.3 percent to reach new record closing highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.2 percent.

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