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Asian Markets Open the Week Higher, Oil Prices Mixed

Stocks in Asia Pacific were higher in Monday trade, with stocks in mainland China leading gains regionally.

The Shanghai composite soared 4.24% in morning trade while the Shenzhen component rose 3.29%. The Shenzhen composite also jumped 3.1%

Jackson Wong, asset management director at Amber Hill Capital, told journalists in an email that “bull sentiment” in mainland Chinese shares was “driving the markets.”

Wong said the “sudden surge” in trading volume, as well as a break out for the Shanghai composite last week, raised investor expectations that “another bull run is coming.” Some of the reasons he suggested for the uptick in sentiment included the country being less affected by the coronavirus outbreak at the moment.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also saw robust gains, rising 3.15% in morning trade.

Elsewhere in the region, the Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.55% while the Topix index added 1.45%. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.38%.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia edged higher, as the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.22%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 1.45% higher.

The moves upward regionally came despite the World Health Organization saying Saturday that more than 200,000 coronavirus cases were confirmed over a 24-hour period — a record.

Over in the U.S., the states of Florida and Texas reported daily record spikes in coronavirus cases on Saturday. The recent surge in cases has raised concerns over the possibility of lockdowns being reintroduced to curb the virus’ spread, that could put a dent on the prospects for economic recovery.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.99 after touching an earlier high of 97.195.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.67 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 108 against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6955 following a rise from levels around $0.684 in the previous trading week.

Oil prices were mixed in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.35% to $42.95 per barrel. U.S. crude futures, on the other hand, shed 0.64% to $40.39 per barrel.