World Shares Turn Lower After Tech-Led Decline on Wall St

BANGKOK (AP) -- World markets were lower Friday, tracking a retreat on Wall Street led by declines in big technology stocks.

Shares fell in Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Shanghai but rose in Hong Kong. U.S. futures also slipped.

A resurgence of coronavirus outbreaks has added to uncertainties over a revival of tourism and other business activity in many parts of the world including Asia.

The World Health Organization says a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases were tallied over the last week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept the planet, a 71% increase from the previous 7-day period that the U.N. health agency likened to a "tsunami."

Germany's DAX lost 0.7% to 15,942.67 while the CAC 40 in Paris declined 0.5% to 7,215.30. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.1% to 7,443.90, The future for the Dow industrials lost 10 points while that for the S&P 500 slipped 0.2%.

Germany's leaders were set to consider possible new restrictions and changes to quarantine rules as the new omicron variant was quickly advancing.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the country's 16 state governors were likely to build on restrictions introduced just after Christmas that limited private gatherings to 10 people, among other things.

Japan approved new restrictions on Friday to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the three most affected southwestern regions of Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima.

Asia has seen smaller numbers but infections are rising rapidly and bottlenecks in testing mean that still more cases are likely unreported. At the same time, alarm has been kept in check by signs the omicron variant may cause less severe illness, especially in countries with high levels of vaccination against COVID-19.

"The highly transmissible omicron variant is a near-term growth risk for low vaccinated emerging market economies, and to supply chains amid China's zero-COVID strategy," Sonal Varma of Nomura said in a report.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index edged less than 0.1% lower to 28,478.56 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.8% to 23,493.48. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.2% to 2,954.89, while the Shanghai Composite index shed early gains to fall 0.2%, closing at 3,579.54. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.3% to 7,453.30.

Shares in Taiwan dropped 1.1% and India's Sensex was nearly unchanged.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,696.05. The Dow slipped 0.5% to 36,236.47. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.1% to 15,080.86, while smaller company stocks bucked the broader market, with the Russell 2000 index gaining 0.6% to 2,206.37.

Weakness in big tech companies like Apple was the main culprit.

Bonds continued to climb. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.73%, the highest level since March. It was 1.70% late Wednesday.

The selling followed a broad slide for the markets on Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve indicated it was ready to raise interest rates to fight off inflation.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels, suggesting that the job market remains strong.

Much attention will be focused on the Labor Department's monthly jobs report, due out on Friday. A strong jobs report could add urgency to the Federal Reserve's efforts to tackle inflation by raising interest rates.

In other trading Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 54 cents to $80.00 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped 2.1% on Thursday, helping to push energy stocks higher.

Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oil, climbed 54 cents to $82.53 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 115.90 Japanese yen from 115.85 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1315 from $1.1298.