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Hong Kong’s Hang Seng drops 1% as tech shares fall; investors monitor bitcoin volatility

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific dropped on Monday, while investors monitored bitcoin prices after they fell sharply over the weekend. Oil prices jumped during early Asia trade.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.3% in early trade, as tech stocks fell. JD dropped more than 5% and Tencent was down 1%.

Alibaba shares in Hong Kong fell nearly 8% in early trade. The company announced Toby Xu, its deputy chief financial officer, will succeed Maggie Wu as chief financial officer. That change will be effective Apr. 1.

Four new stocks — including Chinese technology giants JD and Netease — were added to the benchmark Hang Seng index. The latest update increases the number of stocks in the main index to 64, from the current 60 stocks.

At the same time, troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande will be removed from the China Enterprises index.

Evergrande, embroiled in debt problems, warned Friday in a filing with the Hong Kong exchange that it has received a demand to repay about $260 million.

“In the event that the Group is unable to meet its guarantee obligations or certain other financial obligations, it may lead to creditors demanding acceleration of repayment,” it said.

Evergrande shares tumbled 11% in early trade.

Japan’s Nikkei drops about 1%

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell nearly 1%, while the Topix was down 0.79%. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.57%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.39%.

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MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.58%.

Stocks across the region and globally have seen turbulent trading since last week on fears surrounding the new omicron variant.

“This week would be crucial as we would likely get a better read of the Omicron’s severity,” DBS wrote in a Monday note. “During the Delta variant surge in August, tech stocks held up better. That did not happen this time, with the Nasdaq correcting more than the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones index.”

“The mix of Omicron fears, upcoming tighter Fed policy and weak equities sentiment is proving difficult to digest, sparking demand for safety in longer-term US Treasuries,” it added.

Bitcoin volatility

Investors will continue to monitor crypto after bitcoin prices were volatile throughout the weekend, dropping sharply Saturday afternoon during Asia hours. Bitcoin initially lost about 17%, or $10,000 — falling to a low near $43,000.

Still, the cryptocurrency has lost over 13% since Friday.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.279, continuing its rise from levels around 96.1 in the previous session.

The Japanese yen traded at 113 per dollar, weakening slightly. The Australian dollar was at $0.7016, edging higher from levels around $0.69 earlier.

Oil prices jump

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