Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index drops 2% amid Evergrande trading halt

SINGAPORE — Asian markets were mixed on Monday morning, with the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong tumbling more than 2%.

Trading in shares of China Evergrande was halted on Monday morning, as investor concern surrounding the indebted property developer returned.

Trading in the shares of Evergrande Property Services was also halted. There were no reasons given for the trading halts. At the same time, the shares of another Chinese property developer Hopson were also suspended.

Hop said in a filing that it has halted its shares pending a “major transaction” under which it has agreed to acquire the shares of another company.

Investors will continue to monitor the situation surrounding the debt worries of Evergrande, which has missed two bond interest payments in the past weeks.

Meanwhile, shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Monday morning trade after Merck announced its new Covid oral antiviral treatment that cuts the risk of hospitalization or death.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.57% while the Topix index dipped 0.24%.

Australian stocks jumped, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 1.14%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.13% higher.

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Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced Friday they’ve developed a drug which reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by around 50% in Covid patients. If authorized by regulatory bodies, the drug could be the first oral antiviral medicine for Covid.

The companies plan to seek emergency authorization for the antiviral Covid treatment after the medicine showed “compelling results” in clinical trials.

Markets in China are closed for most of this week for a holiday and are set to reopen on Friday. South Korean markets are also closed on Monday for a holiday.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.999 after a recent decline from above 94.4.

The Japanese yen traded at 110.97 per dollar, stronger than levels around 112 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7265 following a bounce late last week from around $0.72.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.11% to $79.19 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.18% to $75.74 per barrel.

 – CNBC’s Chloe Taylor contributed to this report.

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