Asian markets turned lower Friday as investors struggled to take the lead from a record performance on Wall Street overnight and following below-forecast Chinese factory data.
News that US growth had accelerated more than 6 percent in the first quarter of this year and unemployment claims continued to fall to new COVID-19 pandemic-era lows reinforced the view that the recovery in the world’s top economy was well on track.
That came after the head of the US Federal Reserve had reiterated the bank’s commitment to keeping monetary policy ultra-loose until it is satisfied that the economy is strong enough.
In response, the S&P 500 hit another record, helped by a string of outsized earnings from tech heavyweights including Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Google.
However, after a broadly upbeat week Asia was unable to build on the positive run, with most markets in negative territory.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index led the losses, shedding 2 percent, with tech firms, including JD.com Inc (京東), Meituan (美團) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) taking a hit after China ramped up its crackdown on the sector by summoning 13 companies to call for changes to their fintech operations.
The Hang Seng lost 1.22 percent for the week.
The Shanghai Composite Index also fell on Friday, losing 0.8 percent to 3,446.86 points, and falling by the same percentage for the week.
Adding to the selling pressure was a report showing slowing growth in China’s factory activity owing to a global shortage of shipping containers, supply chain problems and rising freight rates.
Japan’s TOPIX on Friday fell 0.6 percent to 1,898.24 points, down 0.9 percent for the week, and the benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.8 percent to 28,812.63, down 0.7 percent weekly.
South Korea’s KOSPI on Friday shed 0.8 percent to 3,147.86, bringing its weekly loss to 1.2 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index on Friday also fell 0.8 percent, losing 0.5 percent for the week.
India’s SENSEX on Friday fell 2 percent, paring its weekly gain to 1.9 percent.
The TAIEX was little changed on Thursday, falling less than 0.01 percent to close at 17,566.66 points, up 1.54 percent for the week. Taiwanese markets were closed on Friday for International Workers’ Day.
“The recovery in Asia remains on track, as it does in the US, but is uneven,” Oanda Corp’s Stephen Innes said. “COVID-19 remains a threat in Asia. Logistical bottlenecks, and semiconductor shortages, are now a global issue, making their presence felt everywhere.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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