SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were largely higher in Wednesday trade as investors continue to assess the impact of the omicron Covid variant.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained about 0.4%, paring earlier gains of more than 1%. Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed, with the Shanghai composite fractionally lower and the Shenzhen component advancing 0.702%.
Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia shed 0.22%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.22% higher.
Tech shares in Asia rise
Technology shares in Asia rose in Wednesday trade.
In Hong Kong, shares of Chinese tech giants pared earlier gains but remained in positive territory. Alibaba was up 0.7% while Tencent gained 0.86% and Meituan advanced 1.75%. The Hang Seng Tech index traded 0.98% higher.
Over in Japan, Softbank Group’s stock gained 0.87% while South Korea-listed shares of chipmaker SK Hynix climbed 1.61% and Kakao Games added 3.17%.
Those moves followed similar big gains by their U.S. counterparts overnight, with the Nasdaq Composite jumping 2.4% to 15,341.09.
Other major indexes on Wall Street also saw sizable gains as the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 560.54 points to 35,492.70 while the S&P 500 gained 1.78% to 4,649.23.
“Mostly positive Omicron news have helped lift sentiment with South Africa reporting a slump in daily infections to the lowest in two weeks,” said Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at National Australia Bank.
“Omicron news are lifting sentiment, encouraging markets to price a less malicious outcome from the new virus wave. Omicron is and will continue to have an impact on the global economy, but now there is prospect that its impact could be shorter and shallower,” Catril said.
Turkish lira watch
Investors monitored the Turkish lira on Wednesday following its recent wild swings after the country’s president announced a plan to support the currency and protect local deposits against market moves.
The lira was last at 12.3853 per dollar, still much stronger than the record low seen earlier this week when the currency was above the 18 level against the greenback.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.508 — above levels below 94 seen late last week.
The Japanese yen traded at 114.08 per dollar following a recent weakening from levels below 113.7 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.714 after climbing from below 0.712 earlier this week.