Asian stocks rose on Monday, as expectations of healthy quarterly earnings as well as optimism about the prospects for additional stimulus in the U.S. offset worries about rising Covid-19 cases and doubts over the ability of vaccine makers to supply the promised doses on time.
Investors looked ahead to this week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting amid bets that officials will likely put off any changes in their bond-buying program until 2022.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 17.49 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,624.24 as investors awaited President Xi Jinping’s keynote address at the World Economic Forum’s first global virtual meeting.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index spiked 711.16 points, or 2.4 percent, to 30,159.01 after the government lifted a weekend lockdown forced on thousands of residents of an inner city area to test for the coronavirus.
Japanese shares ended at a 30-year high as focus shifted to the corporate earnings season and data showed new coronavirus cases in Tokyo dropped below 1,000 for the first time in twelve days.
The Nikkei 225 Index gained 190.84 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 28,822.29, marking its highest closing level since Aug. 3, 1990. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,862.00. Pharmaceutical, textile and apparel, and services sector-oriented issues led the gainers.
Australian markets finished modestly higher, with miners pacing the gainers ahead of a public holiday on Tuesday for Australia Day. Sentiment was underpinned after the country’s medical regulator formally approved the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 24.30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,824.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 32.50 points, or 0.5 percent, at 7,111.40.
Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose 1-2 percent, while smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group surged 4 percent, marking its biggest intraday jump in over two weeks. The big four banks ended flat to slightly higher ahead of headline inflation data due on Wednesday.
Energy stocks extended losses for the third day, with Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search ending down 1-2 percent.
Seoul stocks rallied as investors awaited earnings results from a flurry of big-name firms. The benchmark Kospi jumped 68.36 points, or 2.2 percent, to 3,208.99, a record closing high on hopes of faster economic recovery and improvement in corporate earnings. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics climbed 3 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix spiked 5.1 percent.
New Zealand shares rose for the fifth straight session, with the benchmark ending a choppy session up 65.67 points, or 0.5 percent, at 13,399.10.
U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday as investors reacted to disappointing earnings from IBM and Intel, and Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski both expressed skepticism about the $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index inched up 0.1 percent to reach a record closing high.
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