Asian stocks were mostly lower in thin holiday trade on Monday amid nervousness around the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Airlines across the world cancelled just under 8,000 flights over the three-day Christmas weekend due to the spread of the Omicron variant, flight delays and cancellations related to staff shortages.
Many regional markets including Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand were closed for holidays.
Chinese shares fluctuated before finishing marginally lower for the day after official data showed profits at China’s industrial firms grew at a much slower pace in November.
The downside was capped after the People’s Bank of China pledged greater support for the real economy, and said it will make monetary policy more forward-looking and targeted.
Japan’s Nikkei index slipped 0.37 percent to end at 28,676.46 after China reported its highest daily rise in local Covid-19 cases in 21 months over the weekend, pushing regions into lockdowns and tighter social restrictions.
Global technology investor SoftBank Group lost about 3 percent on news that Credit Suisse may seek legal information against the Japanese company to recover certain funds.
Chip-related stocks such as Tokyo Electron and Advantest gained 2.1 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.
Uniqlo clothing shop operator Fast Retailing declined 1.8 percent after new cases of community transmission of the Omicron variant spread major cities. South Korea’s Kospi average dropped 0.43 percent to 2,999.55 due to year-end profit taking. SK Hynix gave up 1.6 percent and Naver shed 0.9 percent while LG Chem rose 1 percent.
India’s Sensex was up 0.3 percent in choppy trade. Gold held steady above the key level of $1,800 per ounce in Asian trade, as slightly weaker U.S. Treasury yields countered an uptick in the dollar. Oil edged lower on concerns over the outlook for fuel demand.