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Investing.com – Asian stocks continued a downward trend on Friday, with concerns over the U.S. economic recovery from the virus growing as initial jobless claims data released on Thursday showed its first uptick since March.
1.416 million Americans filed for unemployment claims over the last week, higher than analyst forecasts for 1.3 million claims, as well as the previous week’s 1.307 million claims. Adding to investor concerns is the fact that some stimulus measures are set to expire at the end of July, and the U.S. Congress has not yet reached consensus on the price tag for replacement measures.
“You have people taking the opportunity to get a little bit off the table,” Victoria Fernandez, chief market strategist at Crossmark Global Investments Inc., told Bloomberg.
“With initial claims moving higher this week, we need to keep an eye on the reopening plans across the country.”
Meanwhile, COVID-19 numbers continue a relentless march, with almost 15.5 million cases globally as of July 24, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.53% by 11:47 PM ET (4:47 AM GMT), as the county entered recession territory on Thursday.
Down Under, the ASX 200 slid 1.31%. New South Wales re-entered a lockdown on Friday as Sydney reported a new outbreak of cases. The lockdown follows the re-imposition of lockdown measures in Melbourne during the previous week.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 2.22%, with the city hitting a fresh record of 118 COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
China’s Shanghai Composite fell 2.25% and the Shenzhen Component slid 2.62%. Tensions between the U.S. and China continue to simmer, with China threatening yet-to-be-detailed retaliation over the U.S. order on Wednesday to close its Houston consulate by Friday.
Japanese markets are closed for a holiday.