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Asian markets pull back as pandemic worries overshadow earnings - MarketWatch

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BEIJING — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower on Tuesday as jitters about the fast spread of the coronavirus’s delta variant dented enthusiasm about strong corporate profits.

Investors looked ahead to U.S. jobs data due out this week for signs of the health of the world’s biggest economy.

The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.47% was about flat and the Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.50% in Tokyo sank 0.8%. The Hang Seng HSI, -0.16% in Hong Kong tumbled 0.8%.

The Kospi 180721, +0.44% in South Korea gained 0.2% and Sydney’s SP/ASX 200 XJO, -0.23% was 0.1% lower. Stocks slipped in Singapore STI, -0.38% and Taiwan Y9999, +0.29% but gained in Indonesia JAKIDX, +0.56% .

Wall Street’s benchmark SP 500 index closed lower, weighed down by declines for tech, energy, industrial and communications stocks.

Investors were encouraged by unexpectedly strong U.S. earnings but are more uneasy as China, the United States and other governments try to stop the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

“It is clear that COVID delta variant risks have not been put to bed,” said Mizuho Bank in a report.

Investors looked ahead to U.S. employment data due out Friday for indications of whether hiring has held up.

The SP 500 SPX, -0.18% slipped 0.2% to 4,387.16. The index is coming off a weekly loss but is within 0.8% of its all-time set a week ago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.28% dropped 0.3% to 34,838.16. The Nasdaq composite COMP, +0.06% added 0.1% to 14,681.07.

A slide in technology, industrial, raw materials and communication companies weighed on the market. Energy stocks also fell in tandem with crude oil prices. Gains by health care stocks, utilities and a variety of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending helped keep the losses in check.

Also this week, some 150 companies in the SP 500 are due to report results.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude CLU21, +0.52% lost 1 cent to $71.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract fell $2.69 to $71.26. Brent crude BRNV21, +0.54% , the price basis for international oils, shed 3 cents to $72.86 per barrel in London. It tumbled $2.52 the previous session to $72.89 a barrel.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.13% declined to 109.22 yen from Monday’s 109.25 yen.