Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday, with diminishing hopes for the passage of a U.S. stimulus bill coupled with worries about the development of a Covid-19 vaccine keeping investors cautious.
U.S. health regulators have paused Eli Lilly’s late-stage trial of its antibody treatment for Covid-19 due to potential safety concerns, adding to uncertainty about the development of a vaccine.
Chinese shares ended lower after a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shenzhen failed to impress investors. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended down 18.97 points, or 0.6 percent, at 3,340.78, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed little changed at 24,667.09.
Japanese shares reversed early losses to end marginally higher as the yen held relatively steady. The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 24.95 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,626.73, while the broader Topix index closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,643.90.
Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial Group lost 1-2 percent. Electronics and semiconductor company Tokyo Electron gained 2.6 percent.
ANA Holdings slumped 4.6 percent after a report the airline is eying a 5 percent monthly wage cut. Nippon Steel gave up 3.8 percent on news it is considering selling off its two automotive steel plants in the U.S. state of Indiana.
Australian markets edged lower amid fading hopes for additional U.S. stimulus and uncertainty about Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 16.50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,179.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 12.80 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,387.40.
The big four banks all fell over 1 percent, while miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto ended down between 0.8