SOUTH KOREA – Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday, with Australia’s benchmark down more than 1% on reports of a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the Melbourne area.
Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul but fell in Hong Kong.
Adding to unease was a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that the number of coronavirus cases in some states is much higher than has been reported. Experts have said all along that the toll from the COVID-19 pandemic is much higher than the confirmed cases would indicate, due to issues with testing and data collection.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4% to 22,791.66 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.1% lower to 25,610.94. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.3% to 3,332.
The S&P ASX/200 in Australia skidded 1.3% to 6,079.10. Shares rose in Taiwan, Bangkok and Jakarta but fell in Singapore.
Australian media reports said authorities would be announcing a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the state of Victoria, home to the country's second largest city, Melbourne.
Melbourne was put under lockdown as infections spread, with numbers of new cases rising into the hundreds daily.
Uncertainty over prospects for more financial aid to Americans and U.S. businesses also is casting a shadow, analysts said. The Republican Party and Democrats remain divided over how much support is needed, as states grapple with rebounds in cases that have prompted some local governments to order some businesses to close to help snuff out flare ups of the virus.