SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were mixed Tuesday, as markets stateside pulled back with the S&P retreating from a record. Meanwhile, investors will monitor the omicron variant as it comes back into focus.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up marginally by 0.1% in early trade, while the Topix rose 0.27%.
However, South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.6%, with tech names tumbling. Samsung Electronics dipped 0.65%, while LG Electronics was down 2.24%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.15%.
Caution on the new omicron variant prevailed again as the U.K. confirmed Monday that at least one patient infected with the new omicron variant of Covid-19 has died in the country. China also reported its first omicron case, according to Reuters.
The University of Oxford published results on Monday showing two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer–BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines are substantially less effective at warding off omicron compared to previous variants of the coronavirus. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.
The research paper noted that some vaccine recipients “failed to neutralize” the virus at all.
U.S. stocks pulled back overnight, with the S&P falling from a record start earlier in the week. It fell 0.9% to 4,668.97 and sits about 1.6% from its intraday record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 320 points lower to 35,650.95. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 1.4% to 15,413.28.The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 1.4% to 15,413.28.
“An increasing number of companies in Europe are telling staff to work from home amid rising cases numbers. Further research shows the lower protection from two doses of mRNA vaccines. China also reported its first case of Omicron. This offset a more bullish view of the oil market from OPEC,” ANZ Research analysts Brian Martin and Daniel Hynes wrote in a Tuesday note.
Oil prices fell Monday on renewed doubts about the variant. U.S. crude was hovering near the flatline on Tuesday during Asia hours, trading at $71.34 per barrel.
Investor focus will also likely be on the Fed’s latest two-day policy meeting, which kicks off on Tuesday. After the meeting wraps up on Wednesday, the Fed is expected to announce that it will speed up the pace of tapering its asset purchasing program.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.317 — sharply rising from levels around 96.1 earlier in the week.
— CNBC’s Chloe Taylor contributed to this report.