Bangkok: Asian markets were mixed on Friday after major indexes edged higher on Wall Street, preserving their gains for the week.
Hong Kong and Shanghai fell while Sydney and Seoul advanced. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.
Surges in coronavirus cases around the region are prompting governments to tighten pandemic restrictions that are expected to slow business activity and keep travel to a minimum.
Thailand reported a daily record of 14,575 cases, with 114 deaths, as a stricter set of limits went into effect in many areas. The central bank, meanwhile, has said this latest, worst outbreak could cause the economy to contract by 2 per cent this year, instead of the recovery it had earlier forecast.
The SET in Bangkok edged 0.1 per cent lower. In Seoul, the Kospi was 0.2 per cent higher, while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 per cent.
Regional trading was muted, with markets in Japan closed for a holiday ahead of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1 per cent to 27,438.68 and the Shanghai Composite index gave up 0.7 per cent to 3,551.55.
The declines came as Bloomberg reported regulators were planning more penalties for ride-sharing giant Didi, whose shares in New York sank 11.3 per cent on Thursday.
Didi’s shares have declined more than 25 per cent since they began trading in New York last month, amid a crackdown by the Chinese government on technology companies.
Asian equities traded sideways on Friday, mirroring choppy price action on Wall Street overnight,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a commentary. However, pandemic concerns continue to weigh on the market.”
On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent to 4,367.48. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1 per cent to 34,823.35. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.4 per cent to 14,684.60.
All three indexes remain close to the all-time highs they set early last week.
Wall Street’s smallest companies lost ground. The Russell 2000 index fell 1.5%, to 2,199.48.
Gains by Apple, Microsoft and other big technology stocks helped offset declines for banks, energy companies and industrial stocks.
Trading was mostly muted as investors reviewed the latest corporate earnings and a surprise increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.
Hints about when the Federal Reserve may begin to unwind some of the support that’s helped keep the economy going during the pandemic, now that inflation is on the rise, is expected from a two-day policy making meeting next week.
The Labor Department reported unemployment claims rose last week to 419,000, the most in two months and more than economists were expecting. Economists said it was most likely a blip caused by some one-time factors and partly a result of the inevitable bumpiness in the week-to-week data.