Asia shares mostly lower amid rising coronavirus cases, Washington turmoil

Chibuike Oguh, Reuters

Posted at Jan 12 2021 09:28 AM

Asia shares mostly lower amid rising coronavirus cases, Washington turmoil 1
A pedestrian wearing a face mask walks near an overpass with an electronic board showing stock information, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China March 17, 2020. Aly Song, Reuters

NEW YORK - Asian stocks were mostly lower on Tuesday, tracking Wall Street declines as political turmoil in Washington and rising coronavirus cases worldwide weighed on sentiment ahead of the start of the quarterly earnings season.

Political uncertainty dominated trading as House Democrats introduced a resolution to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting insurrection following a violent attack on the Capitol last week.

Several big tech giants, including Twitter Inc, Amazon.com Inc , Alphabet Inc, Facebook Inc and Apple Inc, have taken actions against Trump and his network of supporters, as concerns mounted over the risk of continued violence.

Twitter’s stock tumbled 6.4 percent on Monday after the micro-blogging site permanently suspended Trump’s account last Friday.

Investors also kept an eye on the continued spread of the coronavirus globally as cases surpassed 90 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally.

“The weakness was led by tech and I think the banning of Trump’s account by Twitter and Amazon stepping up against Parler all brought a renewed focus on increased regulation and reining in on tech,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman of Great Hill Capital in New York.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.48 percent, South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.91 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures lost 0.54 percent.

Defying the broader selloff, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.24 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.29 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.66 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.25 percent.

Investors are expecting guidance on the extent to which executives see a rebound in 2021 earnings and the economy from results and conference calls from JP Morgan, Citi and Wells Fargo Friday.

Meanwhile, longer-term Treasury yields were at their highest since March before new long-dated supply coming this week and on speculation of more U.S. fiscal stimulus as Democrats will have control of Congress and the White House.

“People are optimistic to see the yield curve steepening and it could help spreads and net interest margins for banks,” Hayes said.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 11/32 in price to yield 1.1443 percent, from 1.107 percent late on Friday.

The spread between the two-year and 10-year Treasury yields brushed against 100 basis points to hit its steepest since July 2017.

The climb in yields in turn offered some support to the dollar, which rose to its highest in over two weeks against a basket of currencies.

The U.S. dollar index rose 0.256 percent, with the euro down 0.54 percent to $1.2152. The Japanese yen weakened 0.24 percent versus the greenback at 104.20 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3516, down 0.35 percent on the day.

Crude oil prices fell, hit by renewed concerns about global fuel demand amid tough coronavirus lockdowns across the globe, as well as the stronger dollar.

U.S. crude recently fell 0.1 percent to $52.19 per barrel and Brent was at $55.61, down 0.68 percent on the day.

Safe-have spot gold dropped 0.2 percent to $1,844.27 an ounce. Silver fell 1.70 percent to $24.94.