Investors continue to watch omicron Covid variant

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific fell in Monday morning trade as investors monitor developments surrounding the recently discovered omicron Covid variant.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 declined 1.17% in early trade while the Topix index shed 1.35%. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.37%.

Shares in Australia slipped in morning trade as the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.69%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.29% lower.

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Oil prices surge at least 4%

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours.

International benchmark Brent crude futures were up 4% to $75.68 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 4.65% to $71.32 per barrel. On Friday, oil saw its worst day of 2021 amid renewed Covid fears.

Spot gold traded at $1,791.31 per ounce, having declined from above $1,800 late last week.

The Japanese yen, widely seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 113.74 per dollar after strengthening sharply late last week from above 114.8 against the greenback.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.212 after a recent drop from above 96.4.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.714, having dropped last week from above $0.725.

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