Asian Shares Mostly Higher Ahead Of Holiday Break

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Asian Shares Mostly Higher Ahead Of Holiday Break

Asian stocks rose broadly on Thursday amid renewed optimism about a potential Brexit deal and hopes for an economic recovery. Trading activity was subdued ahead of the Christmas break.

Chinese shares bucked the uptrend on reports of an antitrust investigation into Asia’s leading e-commerce company Alibaba. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 19.21 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,363.11, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.2 percent to 26,386.56.

Japanese shares closed near a three-decade high after reports suggested that Britain and the European Union were on the cusp of striking a post-Brexit trade deal. The global Covid-19 vaccine rollout also buoyed hopes of an economic recovery.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 144 points, or 0.5 percent, to 26,668.35, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,774.27.

Aeon rallied 3.5 percent to a record high after the retailer upwardly revised its earnings outlook for the year to February.

Heavy machinery maker IHI jumped 5.9 percent and Kawasaki Heavy Industries advanced 3.4 percent on a Nikkei report that Japan’s new zero emission strategy would target a massive increase in offshore wind power.

Meanwhile, Hino Motors plunged 12.4 percent after announcing it will halt its plants and postpone new-model vehicle sales in the U.S. and Canada.

SoftBank Group, the biggest shareholder of Alibaba Group Holding, declined 1.7 percent as China kicked off an investigation into alleged monopolistic practices at the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Australian markets eked out modest gains in pre-Christmas trade as record testing numbers and a drop in new community transmissions in New South Wales provided cause for optimism.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 21.70 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,664.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 24.90 points, or 0.4 percent, at 6,917.50.

Energy stocks such as Beach Energy, Oil Search and Santos rose over 2 percent as oil extended overnight gains on a bullish inventory report and hopes for Britain and the EU to work out a trade deal.

Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rose between 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent, while banks ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac ended with modest losses.

BHP said that “independent tests” had been carried out on Samarco’s preparations before restarting operations.

New Zealand shares edged up slightly to close at a record high, with healthcare companies and financials pacing the gainers.

The benchmark NZX-50 index inched up 17.73 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,037.94. Marine cargo handling company Napier Port Holdings surged 4.2 percent to a near two-week high.

Australian and New Zealand markets closed early today and will remain shut on Friday and Monday for Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.

Seoul stocks rose sharply after Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a televised briefing the country has signed deals with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen to import coronavirus vaccines for up to 16 million people.

The country is struggling to contain a third wave of the pandemic after reporting its second-highest daily tally of cases on Wednesday. The benchmark Kospi jumped 47.04 points, or 1.7 percent, to 2,806.86, breaching the 2,800 mark for the first time ever.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics surged 5.3 percent, while No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix advanced 1.7 percent.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight amid signs of a stalling economic recovery and President Trump’s threat to veto the stimulus bill.

The S&P 500 ended barely in positive territory after closing lower for three consecutive sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3 percent.

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