Asia stocks lower as virus fears resurface; China’s industrial output misses expectations – CNBC

Stocks in Asia were lower in Monday afternoon trade as investors weighed the potential impact of recent spikes in coronavirus cases.

In Japan, Nikkei 225 slipped 1.28% while the Topix index shed 0.66%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi dipped 0.72%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite little changed while the Shenzhen component added 0.85%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.62%.

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia fell 0.8%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index shed 0.72%.

Developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic likely continued to be watched by investors on Monday.

A district in the Chinese capital of Beijing was in a “wartime emergency” after a cluster of infections was found centered around a wholesale market, according to Reuters. Stateside, Texas and North Carolina also reported a record number of virus-related hospitalizations on Saturday.

“News over the weekend have done little to ease concerns over the risk of a new round containment measures,” Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

“As economies reopen, an increase in infection rates is to be expected, the question is whether detecting measures will be efficient enough to allow for localised containment measures without having to shut the whole economy again,” Catril said.

Commenting on the recent outbreak in Beijing, independent analyst Fraser Howie said: “I think a harsh lockdown in the way we’ve seen before is unlikely.”

“I think it’s gonna be much tailored,” Howie told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday. “If nothing else, even the Chinese have realized now that locking up hundreds of millions, if not billions, of healthy people and crashing your economy causes a lot of long-term problems that just aren’t solved by reopening at some point in the future.”

Meanwhile, Chinese economic data for May released Monday missed expectations. Industrial production in the country for that month rose 4.4% year-on-year, less than expectations of a 5% increase by analysts in a Reuters poll. Retail sales declined 2.8% year-on-year in May, worse than expectations of a 2% decrease per a Reuters poll.

Oil prices drop

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 2.07% to $37.93 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dropped 3.06% to $35.15 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 97.076 after rising from levels below 96.5 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.16 per dollar following a strengthening from levels above 108 last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6824 after last week’s slip from levels above $0.693.

— CNBC’s Emma Newburger contributed to this report.