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Chinese online gaming stocks tumble after state media takes aim at industry; Asia stocks slip

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Tuesday trade, with Hong Kong-listed shares of firms in the Chinese online gaming market plummeting after the activity was described as a type of “opium” by Chinese state media.

In Tuesday afternoon trade, shares of Tencent in Hong Kong plunged 6.57% while Netease and Bilibili dropped 8.15% and 3.81%, respectively. The Hang Seng Tech index declined 1.55%.

The losses came after the Economic Information Daily, affiliated with Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, published an article that expressed concern over the amount of time spent by youths on online gaming.

Hong Kong’s broader Hang Seng index dipped 0.33%, as of its final hour of trading.

Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower as the Shanghai composite declined 0.47% to 3,447.99 while the Shenzhen component fell 0.414% to 14,736.92.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.5% to close at 27,641.83 while the Topix index shed 0.46% to end the trading day at 1,931.14.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.23% on the day to 7,474.50. Shares of Afterpay saw more gains on Tuesday, jumping 11.37%. The firm’s stock surged nearly 19% on Monday after U.S. fintech firm Square announced it had agreed to buy the buy now, pay later giant.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.44% higher at 3,237.14. The Taiex in Taiwan also advanced 0.29% to finish the trading day at 17,553.76.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.1% higher.

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday announced its decision to keep the cash rate unchanged at 0.1%.

The Australian central bank also stuck to plans to taper its bond buying. Many analysts in a Reuters poll had expected the RBA to delay the planned tapering of its bond buying campaign in order to maintain stimulus amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 97.31 points to 34,838.16 while the S&P 500 slipped 0.18% to 4,387.16. The Nasdaq Composite edged fractionally higher to 14,681.07.

Concerns over Covid are weighing on investor sentiment. The CDC director said Monday that the seven-day average of daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed the peak seen last summer, when the country didn’t have an authorized Covid-19 vaccine.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.012 after recently seeing levels below 92.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.11 per dollar, stronger than levels above 109.5 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7397, having risen from below $0.735 yesterday.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.33% to $72.65 per barrel. U.S. crude futures declined 0.24% to $71.09 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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