Japan, South Korean stocks drop 1%; investors monitor bitcoin volatility

  • Investors will continue to monitor crypto after bitcoin prices were volatile throughout the weekend, dropping sharply Saturday afternoon during Asia hours.
  • Over in Hong Kong markets, four new stocks — including Chinese technology giants JD and Netease — will be added to the benchmark Hang Seng index, while troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande will be removed from the China Enterprises index.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific dropped in early trade on Monday, while investors will keep an eye on bitcoin prices after they fell sharply over the weekend. Oil prices jumped during early Asia trade.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.1%, while the Topix was down 0.67%. South Korea's Kospi also dropped around 1%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.3%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.24%. Stocks across the region and globally have seen turbulent trading since last week on fears surrounding the new omicron variant.

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Over in Hong Kong markets, four new stocks — including Chinese technology giants JD and Netease — will be added to the benchmark Hang Seng index. The latest update increases the number of stocks in the main index to 64, from the current 60 stocks.

At the same time, troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande will be removed from the China Enterprises index.

Evergrande, embroiled in debt problems, warned Friday in a filing with the Hong Kong exchange that it has received a demand to repay about $260 million.

"In the event that the Group is unable to meet its guarantee obligations or certain other financial obligations, it may lead to creditors demanding acceleration of repayment," it said.

Bitcoin volatility

Investors will continue to monitor crypto after bitcoin prices were volatile throughout the weekend, dropping sharply Saturday afternoon during Asia hours. Bitcoin initially lost about 17%, or $10,000 — falling to a low near $43,000. It has since pared some losses to around $48,780, according to Coin Metrics. Still, the cryptocurrency has lost over 13% since Friday.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.205, continuing its rise from levels around 96.1 in the previous session.

The Japanese yen traded at 112.95 per dollar, little changed compared to earlier. The Australian dollar was at $0.7012, edging higher from levels around $0.69 earlier.

Oil prices jump

Oil prices climbed more than 2% in early Asia trading hours after mostly falling last week on Covid uncertainty and the OPEC+ plan to increase output in January.

Brent futures were up 2.22% to $71.43 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.29% to $67.78 per barrel.

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