Gold Surges, Asian Stocks Mixed Amid U.S.-China Feud, Pandemic

BEIJING (AP) -
stock market coronavirus
An electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Major Asian stock markets declined and gold surged to a record price Monday amid U.S.-China tensions and concern a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic might be weakening.

Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong retreated while Seoul advanced. India opened lower and Southeast Asian markets were mixed.

Wall Street ended last week down after a new diplomatic flare-up between Washington and Beijing and mixed earnings reports.

Global markets have regained most of this year’s losses but forecasters warn the rebound might be too big and too early as virus case numbers rise in the United States and some other economies.

Weak stock prices “speak volumes of soured risk appetite amid escalating U.S.-China risks, worsening virus outbreaks and a flagging recovery,” said Hayaki Narita of Mizuho Bank in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index sank 0.4% to 3,181.15 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.2% to 22,695.06. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 0.6% to 25,549.57.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.8% to 2,217.16 and Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.1% to 6,032.00. India’s Sensex opened down 0.5% at 37,926.24. New Zealand and Singapore declined while Jakarta rose.

Gold jumped $30.40 to a record $1927.90 per ounce in a sign investors were looking for safe havens to park money.

On Friday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.6% to 3,215.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.7% to 26,469.89. The Nasdaq composite fell 98.24 points, or 0.9%, to 10,363.18.

Investors were rattled by the latest U.S.-Chinese diplomatic feud. The Trump administration told Beijing last week to close its consulate in Houston. China responded by ordering the closure of the U.S. Consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

That adds to strains over trade, technology, Hong Kong and human rights that have sent relations between the two biggest global economies plunging to their lowest level in decades.

Investors also are worried about a rise in U.S. layoffs as spiking coronavirus infections lead more businesses to shut down. Extra unemployment benefits expire this week. Congress has yet to agree on more economic aid.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 cent to $41.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 22 cents on Friday to settle at $41.29. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 3 cents to $43.75 per barrel in London.

The dollar declined to 105.63 yen from Friday’s 105.97. The euro declined to $1.1699 from $1.1766.