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Asian Shares End On Muted Note

Asian stocks ended on a muted note Monday, as inflation continued to be a worry and a spike in coronavirus cases across several markets in the region over the weekend led to lockdowns and restrictions in some areas.

Traders also kept a close eye on Washington after President Joe Biden acknowledged there was no guarantee the infrastructure package would get through Congress.

The White House on Saturday stepped back from a call to link it to a wider tax-and-spending bill – including priorities like climate change mitigation, child care, schools and social services – that is opposed by Republicans. The announcement fanned fears he had threatened to veto the new agreement.

Chinese shares ended marginally lower as investors awaited manufacturing and non-manufacturing data for directional cues. Official data showed on Sunday that China’s industrial profits slowed again in May due to high base effects and increases in the costs of production.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended marginally lower at 29,268.30 as trading resumed following a morning suspension due to heavy rain in the city.

Japanese shares ended on a flat note after rising in the previous two sessions. The Nikkei average finished marginally lower at 29,048.02 ahead of key U.S. economic data due later in the week, including the June jobs report. The broader Topix index edged up 0.15 percent to settle at 1,965.67.

Tech stocks ended broadly lower. Chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron shed 1.6 percent, Advantest dropped 1.3 percent and Screen Holdings gave up 0.9 percent. Seven & i Holdings soared 4.5 percent after agreeing to sell some U.S. stories to settle FTC charges.

Australian markets ended marginally lower after New South Wales reported 30 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the first day of a two-week lockdown in Sydney and Darwin. Travel and tourism stocks suffered heavy losses as fresh COVID-19 cases triggered tighter restrictions in four states. Flight Centre Travel Group, Qantas Airways and Webjet lost 3-4 percent.

Tech stocks also tumbled, with buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay plunging as much as 7.5 percent. Retailers bucked the weak trend, with online retailer Kogan.com surging 6.6 percent. Supermarket giant Woolworths rallied 2.9 percent.

Seoul stocks fell to snap a four-day winning streak as coronavirus cases spiked across Asia and investors awaited cues from a slew of economic data due later in the week.

The benchmark Kospi finished marginally lower at 3,301.89 after closing at a record high the previous session. LG Chem lost about 1 percent and SK Hynix gave up 2 percent.

New Zealand shares ended slightly lower, with the benchmark NZX 50 index closing down 22.34 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,603.75.

U.S. stocks ended Friday’s session broadly higher as investors picked up shares of companies mostly tied to an economic recovery.

A key U.S. inflation measure closely watched by the Federal Reserve posted its biggest year-on-year increase in May since 1992, but the rate of increase slowed since April.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to reach a fresh record high and the Dow gained 0.7 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.1 percent.

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