Asian Shares Slump On New Covid Variant Concerns

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(RTTNews) - Asian stocks slumped on Friday as the detection of a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant in South Africa hit global risk sentiment.

The new variant has been red-flagged by scientists over an alarmingly high number of spike mutations that might make the virus more resistant to vaccines.

Chinese shares ended lower as a handful of local Covid-19 cases in eastern parts of China prompted Shanghai city to limit tourism activities and a nearby city to cut public transportation services.

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The benchmark Shanghai Composite index slid 20.09 points, or 0.56 percent, to 3,564.09, dragged down by semiconductor-related and energy stocks.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell as much as 659.64 points, or 2.67 percent, to 24,080.52.

Japanese shares hit one-month low and the safe-haven yen rallied, as fears of a new coronavirus variant raised fears about the global economic outlook.

The Nikkei average plunged 747.66 points, or 2.53 percent, to 28,751.62, closing below 29,000 for the first time in about a month. The broader Topix index ended down about 2 percent at 1,984.98, with selling seen across the board.

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