By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer

BEIJING (AP) – Asian stock markets sank on Friday as traders saw an increase in coronavirus cases in Europe and disease checks that threaten to disrupt trade and travel.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney fell. US markets were closed Thursday for a public holiday.

Austria imposed a 10-day nationwide lockdown after its daily virus deaths tripled, while Italy imposed activity restrictions on unvaccinated people. The US government has advised Americans to avoid Germany and Denmark. Morocco has suspended flights from France after its daily new cases surpassed 30,000.

“Traders will be closely monitoring the situation with the new COVID wave across Europe,” ActivTrades’ Anderson Alves said in a report. Alves said China’s restrictions limiting access by sea crews “prolong a crisis” in world trade.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political cartoons

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4% to 3,569.86 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo dipped an unusually wide margin of 2.5% to 28,779.03. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 1.9% to 24,260.94.

The Kospi in Seoul lost 1% to 2,949.71 and the S & P-ASX 200 in Sydney fell to 7,301.90. The New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 closed 0.2% higher on Wednesday. US markets are expected to reopen on Friday for a shortened trading session.

Investors are more cautious after Federal Reserve officials said in their October meeting notes released this week that they anticipated the possibility of responding to higher inflation by raising rates earlier than expected.

Financial markets had been encouraged by strong US corporate earnings and signs that the global economy was rebounding from the historic decline in activity last year due to the pandemic. Stock prices were boosted by easy credit and other measures put in place by the Fed and other central banks.

Investors fear central bankers will come under pressure to withdraw stimulus earlier than expected due to higher than expected inflation. The Fed said earlier that it plans to keep rates low until the end of next year.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude fell from $ 1.68 to $ 76.71 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the basis of international oil prices, fell $ 1.29 to $ 79.63 per barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 114.62 yen from 115.36 yen on Thursday. The euro rose to $ 1.1224 from $ 1.1221.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.