Asia Pacific stocks were mostly down on Friday morning, with concerns about the spread of COVID-19’s Delta strain and the possibility of earlier-than-expected central bank asset tapering continuing to dim the economic outlook.
The safe-haven U.S. dollar hovered near a 9-1/2-month high against major peers on Friday, buoyed by fears that the Delta coronavirus variant could delay the global economic recovery.
Oil prices came off three-month lows on Friday but were on track for a weekly decline of around 6% as new lockdowns in countries with low vaccination rates facing surging cases of the Delta variant dimmed the outlook for fuel demand.
The S&P 500 ended modestly higher in a choppy session on Thursday, with gains in tech shares countering losses in cyclical sectors, as investors took the pulse of the economic rebound and gauged when the Federal Reserve might temper its monetary stimulus.
Gold was down on Thursday morning in Asia, with the dollar strengthening after the U.S. Federal Reserve hinted that it could begin asset tapering as soon as 2021 in the minutes from its latest meeting.
Oil was down Thursday morning in Asia, but remained near three-month lows. An uptick in global COVID-19 cases, alongside a build in U.S. gasoline inventories, all increased pressure on the black liquid.