By Associated Press
SINGAPORE — Asian stock markets were mostly lower Friday as worries surrounding the spread of the delta variant again took center stage.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -2.80% lost 0.7% and Seoul’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -0.77% fell 0.8%. The Hang Seng /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.06% in Hong Kong sank 2.5% and the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.33% gave up 1.7%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.22% was flat. Benchmarks in Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +0.12% , Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 -0.82% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -0.33% rose while New Zealand’s /zigman2/quotes/211587880/delayed NZ:NZ50GR -0.30% fell.
Traders are watching mounting infections around the world, including in New Zealand, which is in lockdown after reporting its first outbreak in six months.
“With the number of COVID-19 infections on the rise, especially in the U.S., the threat from the delta variant is becoming more apparent spurring cautious risk sentiment,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank.
Wall Street closed out another choppy day of trading on Thursday. The benchmark S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.97% started the day in the red before gaining 0.1% to 4,405.80.
The Nasdaq composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -1.15% also inched 0.1% higher to 14,541.79. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.96% fell 0.2% to 34,894.12. All three indices were positioned for weekly losses.
Positive earnings reports from retailers lifted sentiment. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported another weekly drop in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 27 cents to $63.96 a barrel. Brent crude , the international standard, rose 23 cents to $66.68 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.0708% eased to 109.72 Japanese yen from Thursday’s 109.74 yen.