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Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumps 2% as investors assess omicron risks; semiconductor stocks in Asia rise

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose in Tuesday trade as investors continued to monitor the situation surrounding the omicron Covid variant.

Japanese stocks led gains regionally, with the Nikkei 225 in Japan rising 2.03% while the Topix index advanced 1.67%. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.41%.

Mainland Chinese stocks rose, with the Shanghai composite up about 0.4% while the Shenzhen component advanced slightly. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.54%.

Shares in Australia also rose as the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.78%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.73% higher.

Investors continued to track the situation around the omicron variant, which has cast a shadow over the festive holiday period as curbs have already been introduced in countries across Europe.

Global stocks tumbled on Monday as concerns surrounding the fast-spreading omicron strain weighed on investor sentiment.

Chip stocks rise

Semiconductor stocks in Asia-Pacific rose in Tuesday trade after Micron delivered stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings. Shares of the U.S.-listed firm soared nearly 7% in after hours trading on Monday.

In Japan, shares of Tokyo Electron jumped almost 4% while Advantest gained 4.31%.

Elsewhere in South Korea, shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics gained 1.17% while SK Hynix surged 2.9%. Hong Kong-listed shares of SMIC also rose more than 1%.

Overnight stateside, the major averages dropped more than 1% each amid the uncertainty around omicron. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 433.28 points, or 1.23%, to 34,932.16 while the S&P 500 shed 1.14% to 4,568.02. The Nasdaq Composite declined 1.24% to 14,980.94.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.474 — off levels above 96.6 seen recently.

The Japanese yen traded at 113.65 per dollar, stronger than levels above 114 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7111, still struggling to recover after last week’s decline from above $0.72.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.76% to $72.06 per barrel. U.S. crude futures rose 0.99% to $69.29 per barrel.

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