An escalating war of words between the United States and China over the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic caused mostly lower trading in Asian markets Monday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost a staggering 4% and the KOSPI in Seoul was down more than 2.5%, while the index in Sydney enjoyed gains of almost 1.5%.
The markets in Japan, China and Thailand were closed for holidays.
Beijing has been criticized for lack of transparency in its handling of the pandemic, with the U.S. investigating whether the virus might have gotten out from a biosecurity laboratory in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year.
China has dismissed the possibility that the coronavirus pandemic originated in that lab and it was not transmitted from animals to humans in Wuhan as commonly believed.
U.S. market futures are all about a half a percent lower. European market futures are also lower.
In oil futures trading, the price of benchmark U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was $18.41 per barrel, down 6.9%, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, was $25.92 per barrel, down 1.9%.