Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumps 2% as investors assess omicron risks


SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose on Tuesday as investors reassessed the situation surrounding the omicron Covid variant.

Japanese stocks led gains regionally, with the Nikkei 225 in Japan rising 2.08% on the day to 28,517.59 while the Topix index advanced 1.47% to 1,969.79. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.41% to close at 2,975.03.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher, with the Shanghai composite up 0.88% to 3,625.12 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.822% to 14,688.98. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.27%, as of its final hour of trading.

Shares in Australia also rose as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.86%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 1.11% higher.

Investors continued to track the situation around the omicron variant, which has cast a shadow over the festive holiday period as curbs have already been introduced in countries across Europe.

Global stocks tumbled on Monday as concerns surrounding the fast-spreading omicron strain weighed on investor sentiment.

Chip stocks rise

Semiconductor stocks in Asia-Pacific rose in Tuesday trade after Micron delivered stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings. Shares of the U.S.-listed firm soared nearly 7% in after hours trading on Monday.

In Japan, shares of Tokyo Electron jumped 4.4% while Advantest gained 4.61%.

Elsewhere in South Korea, shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics gained 1.3% while SK Hynix surged 3.32%. Hong Kong-listed shares of SMIC also rose more than 1%.

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Overnight stateside, the major averages dropped more than 1% each amid the uncertainty around omicron. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 433.28 points, or 1.23%, to 34,932.16 while the S&P 500 shed 1.14% to 4,568.02. The Nasdaq Composite declined 1.24% to 14,980.94.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.517 — still off levels above 96.6 seen recently.

The Japanese yen traded at 113.72 per dollar, stronger than levels above 114 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7117, still struggling to recover after last week’s decline from above $0.72.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.89% to $72.16 per barrel. U.S. crude futures rose 1.25% to $69.47 per barrel.

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