Stocks drop

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    TOKYO/NEW YORK- Asian equities and US futures fell on Thursday, hurt by the US Federal Reserve’s cautious view of the economy, tensions with China and new clusters of coronavirus infections.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slid 1.24 percent. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis ESc1, were down 0.61 percent.

    Australian stocks dropped 1.04 percent due to concern that ties with China will worsen further after a report that Australian regulators will reject acquisitions by a Chinese company.

    Shares in China fell 0.8 percent, and Japanese stocks slid 0.77 percent. South Korean stocks tumbled 2.11 percent amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Seoul.

    Market sentiment had been bullish up until Fed policymakers’ comments highlighted uncertainties over the US recovery, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting all-time highs driven largely by Apple Inc.

    The iPhone maker’s shares rose 1.4 percent to make the first publicly listed US company reach $2 trillion in market capitalization, while strong results from retailers Target and Lowe’s also lifted sentiment.

    The positive mood quickly faded however after several Fed members said additional easing may be needed because a rebound in employment was already slowing.

    The downbeat tone spilled over into Asia, which weighed on equities and oil futures but pushed gold prices slightly higher due to economic uncertainty.

    “It was a decent day for banks, Apple, and Nike but everything else was in the reverse after the Fed said economic conditions will be difficult for a while,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group. – Reuters