Asian shares fall on virus fears; oil falls after OPEC deal

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares fell Monday across the board amid deepening pessimism over rising COVID-19 infections in the region.

Oil prices dropped further after oil producing nations agreed to raise production limits.

Benchmarks sank in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai and Seoul, while European markets opened lower and U.S. futures also declined.

Experts are saying Indonesia has become a new epicenter for the pandemic as outbreaks worsen across Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, some athletes have tested positive for COVID at Tokyo’s Olympic Village, with the Games due to open Friday.

“The more transmissible delta variant is delaying the recovery for the ASEAN economies and pushing them further into the doldrums,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya, at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 1.3% to finish at 27,652.74. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 1.0% to 3,244.04. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.9% to 7,286.00. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.8% to 27,496.92, while the Shanghai Composite lost a fraction of 1 point to 3,539.12.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.11 to $70.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 16 cents to $71.81 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 72 cents to $72.87 a barrel.

OPEC and allied nations agreed Sunday to eventually raise production limits imposed on five countries, ending an earlier dispute sparked by the United Arab Emirates that roiled global energy prices.

Iraq, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE would see their limits rise, the cartel said in a statement.

The plan would boost their production by 2 million barrels a day by the end of this year.

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OPEC+ agreed in 2020 to cut a record 10 million barrels of crude a day from the market to boost prices. It’s slowly added some 4.2 million barrels back over time, and prices have risen steadily this year, though they are still way below their peak in 2008.

Shares fell on Wall Street on Friday in a pullback largely attributable to declines in big technology stocks, like Apple and Amazon; banks and companies that rely on consumer spending. Energy and industrial stocks also helped drag the market down, outweighing gains in health care and utilities companies.

The S&P 500 fell 0.8% to 4,327.16. It ended the week with a 1% loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.9% to 34,687.85. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slid 0.8% to 14,427.24.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fared worse than the broader market, shedding 1.2% to 2,163.24. The index has outpaced the rest of the market for much of 2021 and is up just 9.5% for the year, well below the S&P 500′s year-to-date gain of 15.2%.

Stock in COVID-19 vaccine maker Moderna rose 10.3% after the drugmaker was added to the S&P 500 index, prompting a rush of buying from fund managers who keep portfolios that replicate the index.

In a bit of positive economic news last week, Americans spent more last month on clothing, electronics and dining out as the economy opened up and there were fewer pandemic-related restrictions.

U.S. retail sales rose a seasonal adjusted 0.6% in June from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday. The increase was a surprise to Wall Street analysts, who had expected sales to fall slightly last month.

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Investors’ attention now turn to earnings. Most companies will report their results this week and in following weeks. Hopes are high, with profits in the S&P 500 expected to jump 64% from a year earlier, according to FactSet.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 109.88 Japanese yen from 110.04 yen late Friday. The euro cost $1.1778, inching down from $1.1812.


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