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China stocks lead gains in Asia-Pacific; India markets plunge as Covid infections continue to surge

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific mostly rose in Monday trade, though India’s markets lagged as the country continues to see a surge in Covid infections.

Mainland Chinese stocks led gains among the region’s major markets, with the Shanghai composite up 1.3% while the Shenzhen component surged 2.576%.

India markets drop

India’s markets tumbled in Monday trade as both the Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex dropped more than 2% each as the Covid situation in the country remains severe and weighs on investor sentiment.

On Sunday, India reported 261,500 new cases. The country now has the second highest number of cases globally, behind only the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Alibaba shares slip

Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba slipped 1.1% by Monday afternoon. That came after Ant Group said in a tweet that a recent report by Reuters that the firm was looking at ways for Jack Ma to exit were “untrue and baseless.”

Reuters reported over the weekend that financial technology giant Ant is “exploring options” for Ma to divest his stake in the firm and “give up control,” citing “a source familiar with regulators’ thinking and two people with close ties to the company.”

Other Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese tech firms rose, with Tencent up 0.71% while Meituan gained 1.72%. The Hang Seng TECH index jumped 1.69%.

Meanwhile, Trip.com shares in Hong Kong jumped more than 3% from they issue price by the afternoon as they made their debut in the city on Monday.

The broader Hang Seng index in the city rose 0.8%.

Other Asia-Pacific markets

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan advanced 0.21% while the Topix index was little changed. Japan’s exports in March surged 16.1% as compared with a year earlier, Ministry of Finance data showed Monday. That was much higher than the 11.6% increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.25% while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.19%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.17% higher.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.643 after a recent decline from above 91.8.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.64 per dollar, stronger than levels above 109.2 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7737, having risen from below $0.768 last week.

Oil prices dipped in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.36% to $66.53 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also slipped 0.25% to $62.97 per barrel.

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