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Hong Kong drops 3% as Asia stocks decline; Oil falls 3%

On Tuesday afternoon, most shares in Asia-Pacific declined as investors in this region continued to track changes and activities surrounding the new Covid variant – Omicron.

Major markets in the Asia-Pacific region dropped after Stephane Bancel, Moderna CEO, talked to the Financial Times, saying that he assumes existing vaccines might be less effective against Omicron, the new Covid variant. On Monday, Bancel told CNBC that it might take several months to produce and send an Omicron-specific vaccine worldwide.

The Hang Seng index from Hong Kong was among the biggest losers in the region, dropping 2.68%. Kospi from South Korea also decreased by 2.89%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.64%, while the Topix index dropped 1.04%.

Stocks from China went lower, with the Shanghai composite falling about 0.5% while the Shenzhen component dropped 0.579%.

According to the data released Tuesday, Chinese factory activity unexpectedly grew this month. China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index was coming in at 51.2. That seemed above analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a reading of 49.5.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia raised 0.23%.

MSCI’s broadest index outside Japan dropped 0.96%.

The major indexes on Wall Street increased after the U.S. President said that Covid omicron lockdowns were not necessary for now. In the meantime, the World Health Organization says that the new variant poses a very high risk globally as it is likely to spread further faster.

The S&P 500 increased 1.33% to 4,655.28 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 1.89% to 15,782.84. The Dow Jones Industrial Average expanded 236.61 points to 35,135.95.

Oil prices stayed lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, shifting earlier profits. International benchmark Brent crude futures moved down 3.13% to $71.16 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also fell 3.06% to $67.83 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index was at 96.048 after surging to around 96.5 recently.

The Japanese yen sold at 113.18 per dollar compared with levels around 113.8 seen earlier. The Australian dollar was at $0.7095, struggling to recover from above $0.726.

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