Asian Markets Mixed as Japanese Automakers Forecast Loss

Stocks in Asia Pacific were higher in Tuesday morning trade as investors continued to monitor developments on the coronavirus front.

Shares in South Korea led gains among the region’s major markets, with the Kospi up 1.92% as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose more than 5%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also up in early trade, with the Shanghai composite gaining 0.5% while the Shenzhen component jumped 1.166%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.97%.

Over in Japan, stocks edged higher as the Nikkei 225 rose 0.39% while the Topix index advanced 0.27%. Shares of Fujifilm rose more than 4% after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday that the U.S. government awarded the firm a $265 million contract for coronavirus vaccine manufacturing.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.95%. Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 1.42% higher.

The situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic likely continued to weigh on investor sentiment. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday unveiled the Republican coronavirus relief plan, which would include relief for jobless Americans, among other provisions. The U.S. currently has the most number of confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Multiple firms also announced Monday the start of late-stage human trials as the race to find a coronavirus vaccine continues.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech said they began their late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday. That announcement by the firms came the same day biotech firm Moderna, also developing a leading vaccine candidate, said it began its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial.

Shares of Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors plummeted about 10% in Tuesday morning trade after the company said Monday that it expects to see a 140 billion yen (about $1.329 billion) loss in operating income for the year ending March 31, 2021.

Meanwhile, Nissan Motor also saw its stock drop more than 3% in Tuesday morning trade following a Nikkei Asian Review report that the firm’s automobile business runs the risk of running out of cash over the next year and a half. Nissan is set to announce its first-quarter financial results on Tuesday.

Shares of other Japanese automakers also slipped, with Toyota down about 0.7% while Honda shed around 1%.

I’m currentcies the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.507 after declining from levels above 94 seen earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.27 per dollar after it strengthened from levels above 105.7 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7169 after rising from levels around $0.71 in the previous trading day.

Oil prices edged higher in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.6% to $43.67 per barrel. U.S. crude futures added 0.38% to $41.76 per bar

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