India Stocks Drop More Than 1% as Covid Cases Surge in the Country; Major Asia-Pacific Markets Closed

PUNIT PARANJPE | AFP via Getty Images
  • Shares in India led losses in Asia-Pacific in Monday trade.
  • Markets in Australia, mainland China and Hong Kong were closed on Monday for holidays.

SINGAPORE — Shares in India led losses in Asia-Pacific on Monday, with multiple major markets in the region closed for holidays.

The Nifty 50 dropped 1.54% to close at 14,637.80 while the BSE Sensex fell 1.74% on the day to 49,159.32 as investors grappled with a recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

India reported a record number of new cases over a 24-hour period on Monday, surpassing levels seen in September when the first wave of infection reached its peak. There were 103,558 new cases, pushing the total number of reported infections to more than 12.5 million, according to the latest government data.

Maharashtra, which is India's richest state and home to the financial capital, Mumbai, has been particularly hit hard since February. On Monday, the state reported more than 57,000 daily new cases, making up more than half of India's total new infections.

Muted trade elsewhere in Asia-Pacific

Elsewhere in the region, stocks saw more muted moves.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.79% on the day to 30,089.25 while the Topix index advanced 0.6% to close at 1,983.54.

South Korea's Kospi closed 0.26% higher at 3,120.83. Shares of LG Electronics dropped 2.52%. The firm announced Monday that it is closing its mobile business unit to focus resources in "growth areas" such as electric vehicle components.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan sat below the flatline.

Markets in Australia, mainland China and Hong Kong were closed on Monday for holidays.

US payrolls smash expectations

In economic developments, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm payrolls rose by 916,000 in March — well above the 675,000 increase expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

The unemployment rate also declined to 6%, in line with the expectations of the economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.031 — off levels above 93.3 seen late last month.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.57 per dollar, following an earlier low of 110.74 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7622, above levels below $0.756 seen last week.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.85% to $63.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 1.81% to $60.34 per barrel.

— CNBC's Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.

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