OREANDA-NEWS. Hong Kong's main stock exchange index Hang Seng (HSI) fell 1.85 per cent (to 22,764 points) in trading on 20 December. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index, which includes shares of a company registered in mainland China, lost 2.3 per cent to 8,032.6 points. The index was down to 8011 points in trading, its lowest since March 2016.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 per cent to 3,593 points, while the Shenzhen Composite Index was down 2 per cent to 14,569 points. South Korea's KOSPI fell 1.8 percent to 2,963 points, while Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 2.13 percent to 27,938 points.

Stock indices in Asia fell amid fears that a new wave of coronavirus infections in the world will lead to increased quarantine restrictions in countries and regions and this will have a negative impact on the global economic recovery, Bloomberg reported. A new strain of the coronavirus Omicron was detected in South Africa and Botswana in late November. It has since been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a threat to the world.

The spread of the new variant of the omicron virus led the Netherlands to declare a general lockdown on Sunday. From 19 December to 14 January cafes, restaurants and all shops that do not sell essential commodities will be closed in the country. Cultural and sporting institutions will also not be open.

"Omicron remains a concern, with cases of contagion on the rise," Blanke Schein Wealth Management's chief investment officer told Bloomberg. Robert Schein. - Investors should be prepared for COVID to continue to be a major factor affecting market performance in 2022."

The People's Bank of China cut its benchmark lending rate (LPR) for the first time in 20 months to support the country's slowing economy. The central bank's decision coincided with analysts' forecasts, but it did not support the stock market.