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Asian Markets Mixed Ahead of Pivotal US Senate Race Results

Currency dealers work in front of an electronic board showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a dealing room of a bank, in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 6, 2021.

Asian markets are mixed Wednesday amid a trio of coinciding political and economic events.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index lost 0.3%. Australia’s S&P/ASX index fell 1.1%. The KOSPI index in South Korea plunged 0.7%, and Taiwan’s TSEC index finished 0.1% lower.

Shanghai’s Composite index closed 0.6% higher. In late afternoon trading, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is 0.2% higher, while Mumbai’s Sensex is down 0.2%.

Investors were keeping a close eye on the runoff vote in (the southern U.S. state of) Georgia for two U.S. Senate seats, which will determine which party controls the chamber as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office on January 20. Reverend Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, was declared the winner over incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler late Tuesday night, while Democrat Jon Ossoff maintained a lead over David Perdue, the other Republican incumbent heading into early Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at least 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and politicians were arrested Wednesday in a sweeping crackdown on opposition forces under a draconian new national security law; and U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning financial transactions with eight Chinese software apps, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

In commodities trading, gold is selling at $1,953.40, down one point but virtually unchanged percentage-wise (-0.05%). U.S. crude oil is selling at $49.85 per barrel, down 0.1%, and Brent crude oil is selling at $53.76 per barrel, up 0.3%.

All three major U.S. indices are trending negatively in futures trading.