Asian stocks were largely tepid on Tuesday (May 4) as a continuous surge in Covid-19 cases kept investors on the sidelines amid holiday-thinned trade, although shares in Taiwan dropped nearly 2%.
In a divergence from world's developed markets, which are faring better than their Asian peers on economic reopening cheer, equities in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia were unchanged.
A raft of manufacturing data in emerging Asia this week pointed to a slower pace of economic recovery, with investors further worried by the slow vaccination rate amid an explosion in Covid-19 cases and a creaky healthcare system.
Holidays in major players China and Japan dampened activity generally, while a mixed close at Wall Street overnight added to some hesitation in making bets.
"The somewhat confusing price action overnight in New York has left the region (Asia) content to sit in wait-and-see mode, offsetting the bullishness of the Wall Street reopening gnomes," said Jeffrey Halley, a senior Asia Pacific market analyst at OANDA.
India's official tally of coronavirus infections surged past 20 million and its shares see-sawed in positive and negative territory before trading up 0.2% by midday.
Electronics-focussed Taiwan's bourse saw its worst day in over eight months as it tracked a drop in US tech stocks, compounded by fears over a recent uptick in domestic infections linked to China Airlines.
Singapore's dollar and the Malaysian ringgit eased around 0.4% against a buoyant greenback, while the South Korean won was little changed.
The Indonesian rupiah edged up slightly a day before first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data was due. Southeast Asia's largest economy is expected to have contracted at a much slower pace in the first quarter, a Reuters poll showed.
Among upcoming events, Thailand's central bank was set to meet to decide its monetary policy when trade resumes on Wednesday amid an unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases in the country.