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Asian markets sink as investors weigh latest global virus concerns

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets sank Friday as traders watched a surge in coronavirus cases in Europe and anti-disease controls that threaten to disrupt trade and travel.

Don’t miss: South African scientists detect new coronavirus variant amid spike in cases

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney declined. U.S. markets were closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Austria imposed a nationwide 10-day lockdown after its daily virus deaths tripled, while Italy imposed curbs on activity by unvaccinated people. The U.S. government advised Americans to avoid travel to Germany and Denmark. Morocco suspended flights from France after its daily new cases spiked above 30,000.

“Traders will be closely monitoring the situation with the new COVID wave across Europe,” said Anderson Alves of ActivTrades in a report. Alves said curbs imposed by China that limit access for shipping crews are “prolonging a crisis” in global trade.

See: Germany becomes fifth European country to pass 100,000 deaths from COVID-19

The Shanghai Composite Index
SHCOMP,
-0.50%

lost 0.4% to 3,569.86 and the Nikkei 225
NIK,
-2.61%

NIY00,
-2.60%

in Tokyo plunged by an unusually wide 2.5% margin to 28,779.03. The Hang Seng
HSI,
-2.13%

in Hong Kong tumbled 1.9% to 24,260.94.

The Kospi
180721,
-1.28%

in Seoul lost 1% to 2,949.71 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200
XJO,
-1.68%

fell to 7,301.90. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500
SPX,
+0.23%

closed up 0.2% on Wednesday. U.S. markets are due to reopen Friday for a shortened post-Thanksgiving trading session.

Investors are more cautious after Federal Reserve officials indicated in notes from their October meeting released this week that they foresaw the possibility of responding to higher inflation by raising rates sooner than previously planned.

Financial markets had been encouraged by strong U.S. corporate earnings and signs the global economy was rebounding from last year’s history-making decline in activity due to the pandemic. Stock prices have been boosted by easy credit and other measures rolled out by the Fed and other central banks.

Investors worry central bankers might feel pressure to withdraw stimulus earlier than planned due to stronger-than-expected inflation. The Fed said earlier it foresaw keeping rates low until late next year.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude
CL00,
-2.88%

fell $1.68 to $76.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude
BRN00,
-2.35%
,
the price basis for international oils, shed $1.29 to $79.63 per barrel in London.

The dollar
USDJPY,
-0.57%

fell to 114.62 yen from Thursday’s 115.36 yen. The euro
USDEUR,
-0.12%

advanced to $1.1224 from $1.1221.

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