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29 Jan 2021 | 11:13

Asia report: Markets mostly lower despite vaccine news

(Sharecast News) - Most markets in Asia finished in negative territory on Friday, with stocks in South Korea leading the charge downwards. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 1.89% at 27,663.39, as the yen weakened 0.46% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 104.72.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.56%, fashion firm Fast Retailing was off 0.72%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 2.14% weaker.

The broader Topix index was off 1.64% by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,808.78.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was off 0.63% at 3,483.07, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.75% weaker at 2,335.05.

South Korea's Kospi was down 3.03% at 2,976.21, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong lost 0.94% to 28,283.71.

The blue-chip technology stocks were weaker in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 2.03% and SK Hynix losing 0.41%.

On the Covid-19 front, biotechnology company Novavax announced overnight that its vaccine was more than 89% effective in protecting against the coronavirus.

"A new vaccine from Novavax was effective in trials in the UK and South Africa although the effectiveness appeared to be reduced in South Africa due to the mutated variant of the virus," said SquaredFinancial chief market analyst Rony Nehme.

Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell said it was telling how risk-off investors were feeling given news that the Novavax jav was nearly 90% effective, including against the UK variant, had failed to induce the same dose of optimism as previous announcements of its kind.

Oil prices were higher as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last up 0.67% at $55.90 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.4% at $52.55.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.64% to 6,607.40, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was the region's odd one out, managing gains of 0.31% to close at 13,127.29.

The down under dollars were in a mixed state against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.27% weaker at AUD 1.3063, while the Kiwi strengthened 0.02% to NZD 1.3936.
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