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Asian Markets Jump on Monday as Investors Shrug off Rising COVID-19 Cases

Stocks in Asia traded higher on Monday morning as investors shrug off concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases stateside.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.34% in early trade as shares of conglomerate Softbank Group and robot maker Fanuc jumped more than 2% each. The Topix index also advanced 1.44%. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6%.

Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.44% as shares of major banks such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac surged more than 2% each.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.24% higher.

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported a record daily rise in global coronavirus cases, according to Reuters. Stateside, Florida on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new coronavirus infections — the highest single day total to date for any U.S. state since the pandemic began in the country.

“Ongoing grim US COVID-19 infection news continues to be summarily ignored,” Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note. Attrill said that was due to “ongoing optimism” surrounding factors such as the “time-line for the discovery and rapid roll-out of an effective vaccine” as well as potential additional policy support for the U.S. economy.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.606 after declining from levels above 96.9 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.90 per dollar following a strengthening from levels above 107.2 against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6942 after turbulent trading last week that saw it swinging between levels below $0.694 to above $0.698.

Oil prices fell in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.06% to $42.78 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also declined 1.16% to $40.08 per barrel.