US inflation data, China, oil prices


SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets declined on Friday as investors assess risks associated with the new omicron Covid variant and look ahead to key inflation data in the U.S.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 extended losses from the previous session and was down 0.51%. The Topix index traded 0.33% lower.

In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.5% while the Kosdaq was down 0.52%.

Australian shares also traded lower. The ASX 200 fell 0.47%, with the energy subindex dropping 1.88% after oil prices declined overnight.

Energy names in Australia sold off: Santos shares fell 2.57%, Oil Search was lower by 2.42% and Woodside Petroleum declined 1.31%.

In company news, Fortescue Metal Group CEO Elizabeth Gaines will step down from her role once her successor is found as the miner shifts to become a diversified renewable energy and resources player. Fortescue shares traded down 0.27%.

Shares on the Chinese mainland also traded lower, with the Shanghai composite down 0.33% while the Shenzhen component dropped 0.43%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 0.3%.

Friday’s session in Asia follows overnight declines on Wall Street.

“The more cautious tone in risk market probably has as much or more to do with apprehension ahead of tonight’s US CPI report,” Ray Attrill, head of foreign-exchange strategy at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note.

U.S. inflation data

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Currencies and commodities

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar dipped 0.11% against a basket of its peers, trading at 96.165. The index rose in the previous session from levels near 95.967 to 96.271.

Analysts said fresh concerns about the omicron strain’s impact on economic recovery likely supported the greenback overnight.

The Japanese yen was little changed, trading at 113.45 per dollar, while the Australian dollar was also relatively flat at $0.7153.

Oil prices settled lower overnight, with Brent down 1.9% at $74.42 a barrel and U.S. crude down 2% at $70.94.

On Friday during Asian trading hours, oil prices traded fractionally lower — U.S. crude traded at $70.89 per barrel and global benchmark Brent was at $74.35.

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