Asian shares were mostly lower Friday amid uncertainty about the prospects for a global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.5% in morning trading to 28,900.98. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.7% to 3,150.48. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6% to 7,042.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.4% to 28,883.41, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.6% to 3,454.76.
The regional market dips came despite reports of strong economic growth in South Korea and a moderation of the unemployment rate in Japan, despite a resurgence of the pandemic.
Major recent outbreaks and slow progress in vaccinations have added to worries about the pandemic in Asia, despite some nations such as Taiwan, South Korea and China faring relatively well in COVID-19 related illnesses and deaths.
Japan remains a poor performer on those fronts, with deaths now topping 10,000 in what experts are calling a fourth wave of infections. Tokyo and some other urban areas are under a government-declared state of emergency, but reports say people are still going out and traveling within Japan over the Golden Week holidays that last through next week.
On Wall Street Thursday, stocks overcame a midday stumble to close broadly higher, driving the S&P 500 0.7% higher to another record close. Communications companies helped power much of the gain, led by a sharp rise in Facebook following the company's latest quarterly report card. Banks also helped lead the rally, outweighing a pullback in health care and technology stocks. Treasury yields were mixed.
Investors weighed the latest batch of company earnings reports and encouraging economic data. A report showing that the U.S. economy grew sharply in the first quarter added to data pointing to a recovery from the recession brought on by the pandemic. Other upbeat reports included data showing that more Americans were signing contracts to buy homes in March after two months of declines.
“We’re experiencing a strong economic recovery that’s translating into a strong corporate earnings environment,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.