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Asia-Pacific markets trade mixed after overnight sell-off on Wall Street; Sony shares tumble 9%

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Wednesday following an overnight sell-off on Wall Street.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.49% while the Topix index was lower by 1.54%. South Korean shares were mixed: While the Kospi retraced earlier losses and rose 0.24%, the Kosdaq fell 0.21%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.41% while the tech-focused Hang Seng Tech index was up 0.16%.

Chinese mainland shares struggled for gains in early trade: The Shenzhen component was down 0.64% while the Shanghai composite fell 0.12%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 dropped 0.48% as most sectors traded lower. The heavily weighted financials subindex declined 0.7% as the country’s major bank names sold off.

“Equity markets declined while oil stocks gained overnight, as markets expect central banks will need to lift rates more quickly to control inflation,” ANZ Research analysts wrote in a Wednesday morning note.

Stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 540 points after Goldman Sachs shares sold off as the investment bank missed analysts’ expectations for earnings. The S&P 500 as well as the Nasdaq Composite, which comprises technology stocks sensitive to interest rates, also declined sharply.

Sony shares tumble

Shares of Japanese conglomerate Sony tumbled 9.1% after Microsoft on Tuesday said it is buying video game publisher Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion — it is set to be the biggest U.S. tech deal ever, eclipsing the 2016 Dell-EMC merger.

Sony, which makes the PlayStation gaming consoles, competes with Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. Last year, Microsoft completed a $7.5 billion acquisition of game maker Bethesda.

Some of Activision’s marquee franchises include Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and the highly popular mobile game Candy Crush.

Elsewhere, shares of embattled cruise operator Genting Hong Kong was suspended until further notice. In a regulatory filing, Genting said it was filing to wind up the company and apply for the appointment of provisional liquidators as it was unable to secure funds needed to stay afloat.

Genting said its available cash balances are expected to run out on or around end of January. Earlier this month, the company warned it may not be able to pay its debts and other obligations after its German shipbuilding subsidiary MV Werften filed for insolvency.

The cruise business, which is operated by Dream Cruises, is expected to continue “in order to preserve and protect the core assets and maintain the value of the Group,” Genting said.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded near flat at 95.758 against a basket of its peers.

ANZ Research analysts said that the jump in U.S. bond yields weighed on risk appetite and provided a boost for the world’s main reserve currency.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note topped 1.87% on Tuesday, its highest level in 2 years, after beginning the new year at around 1.5%. The 2-year rate, which reflects short-term interest rate expectations, topped 1% for the first time in two years.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 114.67 per dollar while the Australian dollar traded near flat at $0.7188.

Oil prices hit a seven-year high overnight after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, leading to fresh tensions in the region. The United Arab Emirates vowed to retaliate against them.

International benchmark Brent as well as U.S. crude futures advanced more than 1% and 2% respectively as both oil contracts notched their highest level since October 2014 earlier in the session.

“Global oil demand continues to remain resilient despite the latest surge in Covid-19 cases from the highly-transmissible omicron variant,” Vivek Dhar, mining and energy commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a morning note.

He explained that oil demand is susceptible to Covid-19, in particular to Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions, more than other commodities as around two-thirds of global oil consumption is tied to mobility.

“Fears though are fading that the omicron variant will cripple oil consumption,” he wrote, adding that jet fuel consumption, for example, continues to trend higher.

On Wednesday, during Asian trading hours, U.S. crude was up 1.7% to $86.88 a barrel.

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