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Coronavirus Pandemic Affected Stocks in Asia-Pacific

Stocks in Asia-Pacific struggled to deal with challenges on Monday, as investors kept an eye on the Covid-19 situation across the region while oil prices dropped 3%.

Australia’s ASX 200 was not able to hold on to modest gains and finished flat at 7,538.40. The country reported 280 new Covid cases over a 24-hour period on Sunday. Millions of people in Australia are under strict lockdown.

Markets in Singapore, as well as Japan, are closed for public holidays.

South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.3% to 3,260.42 and the Kosdaq closed near flat at 1,060. In the meantime, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index reduced earlier gains of near 1% to trade up 0.37% at 26,275.64.

Indian shares traded mostly on Monday afternoon while shares in Indonesia dropped more than 1%. Indonesia is struggling to cope with a serious Covid outbreak.

The mainland Chinese stocks rose on Monday. The Shanghai composite gained 1.05% to 3,494.63. The Shenzhen component advanced 0.77% to 14,941.44.

The world’s second-largest economy’s export growth slowed in July while imports also lost momentum. Exports jumped 19.3% from a year ago, compared with a 32.2% gain in June and against a market forecast of a 20.8% gain. Furthermore, imports also failed to meet expectations, as imports rose 28.1% from a year earlier.

The country orchestrated an impressive economic rebound from a coronavirus-induced slump in the first few months of 2020. But the pandemic is not over yet, and new infections in July forced Chinese authorities to take strict measures. Outbreaks of Covid-19 in eastern and southern provinces affected factory output. Bad weather, as well as seasonal floods, also affected industrial production in some regions.

Factory activity in the world’s largest exporter expanded at a slower pace in July due to higher raw material costs. As stated above, factories also had to deal with extreme weather conditions.

Despite all challenges, the country posted a trade surplus of $56.58 billion in July compared with a $51.53 billion surplus in June. China’s trade surplus with the U.S. reached $35.4 billion up from $32.58 in June.

On August 9, China reported data that showed consumer inflation slowed slightly. In July, the consumer price index rose 1% from a year ago, versus a 1.1% gain in June and below the government target of around 3% in 2021.

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