© Reuters. Investors look at screens showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

By Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Most Asian equity markets continued to ignore record highs hit elsewhere in the world and fell in early trading on Friday, though Australia bucked the trend.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.59%, having closed lower on each of the past three days.

Traders have been pointing to continued worries about the potential for new regulatory crackdowns in China and the fallout from the surging Delta variant of the new coronavirus in several countries in the region.

dropped 0.6%.

Korea’s Kopsi dropped 1.45% with Samsung Electronics (OTC:) falling to a seven-month low on concerns that memory chip prices may start to slip around the fourth quarter. [L1N2PK02H]

Hong Kong fell 0.45%, and Chinese blue chips fell 0.21%.

“Rising regulatory and geopolitical risks are weighing on medium-term growth prospects (in China), especially in segments targeted by national reform or security effort,” said private bank UBP in an investment outlook.

Australia’s ASX200 rose 0.53% to a new record high, lifted by healthcare and technology companies.

“For the most part (Australia) was not directly impacted by the crackdown by Chinese authorities on the tech sector,” said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG markets.

Large-scale regulatory changes in China’s manufacturing sector would have been a greater worry for Australian markets, he added.

Overnight, MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe hit a new record high, and the and also closed at record highs for the third consecutive day. Big technology stocks drove the market higher as investors warmed to jobs data showing a steady U.S. economic recovery. ()

Earlier, European stocks had equalled their longest winning streak since 2017, closing up 0.1% and extending gains for a ninth consecutive session.

The dollar held firm on Friday, staying near its highest level in four months against a basket of currencies as investors looked for more hints from the Federal Reserve on its plans to reduce monetary stimulus.

The firmed to 92.976, near Wednesday’s four-month high of 93.195.

Analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:) said a tapering announcement next month was not currently widely expected. 

“However, we expect market participants to be given some hints about tapering in next week’s FOMC minutes and Chair Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole at the end of the month,” they wrote in a note.

The yield on benchmark was last 1.3506%, little changed from its U.S. close of 1.367% on Thursday.

Oil prices fell for a second straight day after the International Energy Agency warned that demand growth for crude and its products had slowed sharply.

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