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Stocks lower, Japanese yen nears 150 per dollar

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Stocks lower, Japanese yen nears 150 per dollar

An employee works at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), operated by Japan Exchange Group Inc. (JPX), in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shares in the Asia-Pacific traded lower on Thursday as economic fears weigh.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 2.42% after briefly dropping 3%, hitting its lowest level since May 2009. The Hang Seng Tech index was 3.42% lower at the lunch break.

Kelvin Tay, regional chief investment officer at UBS, said the steep drop in Hong Kong markets is due to the government’s “unprecedented silence on key economic indicators.”

“It’s largely because of concerns over the economic outlook and a rise of Covid cases in the middle of the party congress in Beijing,” he said.

The offshore yuan strengthened more than 0.2% to 7.2513 per dollar after Bloomberg reported that officials are debating reducing Covid quarantines to 7 days from 10 days. The currency touched a record low against the US dollar overnight, weakening to 7.2745 per dollar.

Mainland China markets were lower heading into the lunch break. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.39% and the Shenzhen Component slipped 0.602%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 1.38% and the Topix shed 0.91%. The Japanese yen reached yet another fresh 32-year low of 149.95 against the greenback. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 1.35%.

South Koreans Kospi dipped 1.6% and the Kosdaq was 2.11% lower. The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1.72%.

US stocks fell as Treasury yields climbed on Wednesday stateside, with the benchmark 10-year yield touching 4.138%, the highest level since July 23, 2008.

The Nasdaq Composite shed 0.85% to close at 10,680.51, while the S&P 500 declined 0.67% to 3,695.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 99.99 points, or 0.33%, to finish the day at 30,423.81.

— CNBC’s Chery Kang, Jesse Pound and Tanaya Macheel contributed to this report.

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