Asia-Pacific markets: investors reassess omicron variant


SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday morning trade as investors continue to assess the impact of the omicron Covid variant.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 sat fractionally higher, paring earlier gains. The Topix index sat below the flatline. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.47%.

Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia shed 0.12%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.15% higher.

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Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 560.54 points to 35,492.70 while the S&P 500 gained 1.78% to 4,649.23. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.4% to 15,341.09.

“Mostly positive Omicron news have helped lift sentiment with South Africa reporting a slump in daily infections to the lowest in two weeks,” said Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at National Australia Bank.

“Omicron news are lifting sentiment, encouraging markets to price a less malicious outcome from the new virus wave. Omicron is and will continue to have an impact on the global economy, but now there is prospect that its impact could be shorter and shallower,” Catril said.

Turkish lira watch

Investors monitored the Turkish lira on Wednesday following its recent wild swings after the country’s president announced a plan to support the currency and protect local deposits against market moves.

The lira was last at 12.3726 per dollar, much stronger than the record low seen earlier this week when the currency was above the 18 level against the greenback.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.491 — above levels below 94 seen late last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 114.01 per dollar following a recent weakening from levels below 113.7 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.7145 after climbing from below 0.712 earlier this week.

— CNBC’s Natasha Turak contributed to this report.

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