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James Hyerczyk
Asia Pacific Stock Indexes

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were down across the board on Thursday as investors booked profits ahead of the weekend amid concerns over the economic impact of rising coronavirus cases around the world and worries over President Joe Biden’s proposed stimulus package.

However, several analysts are downplaying the weakness, expecting it to be short-lived as they predict a strong upswing in global growth supported by record low interest rates the world over.

Cash Market Performances

In the cash market on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28631.45, down 125.41 or -0.44%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is trading 29458.39, down 469.37 or -1.57% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3140.63, down 20.21 or -0.64%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3606.75, down 14.51 or -0.40% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6800.40, down 23.30 or -0.34%.

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Beijing Launches Mass Virus Tests as China’s Daily Tally Drops Slightly

Beijing launched mass COVID-19 testing in some areas on Friday, while Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China battles its worst outbreak of the disease since March and families fret over reunion plans for the Lunar New Year amid new curbs.

Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily COVID-19 cases on Friday – 103 from 144 cases a day earlier.

Tens of millions of people have been under some kind of lockdown in northern cities amid worries that undetected infections could spread quickly during the Lunar New Year holiday, which is just weeks away.

Hundreds of millions of people usually travel during the holiday, in mid-February this year, as migrant workers return to their home provinces to see family. Officials expect large numbers of travelers, although much fewer than in normal years.

Biden is Already Facing Pressure to Scale Back His $1.9 trillion COVID Relief Plan

CNBC is reporting that President Joe Biden’s First COVID-19 package is already facing hurdles in Congress that threaten to force the fledging administration to curb some of its more progressive aims just one week after the proposal’s debut.

Early critiques from Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, two members of the bipartisan group of senators who crafted the framework for December’s stimulus package, challenged the $1.9 trillion plan.

Both expressed doubts on Wednesday over the need for another bill, especially one with such a price tag, less than one month after Congress passed the $900 billion measure just before the Christmas break.

While criticisms from the GOP were expected, odds the bill would pass unedited grew longer after a report quoted Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia disparaging the size of the latest round of proposed stimulus checks, CNBC reported.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
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