Asia – Pacific Markets Mixed on Concerns over Resurgence of Coronavirus Strain
Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as investors watched for developments on the coronavirus front.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.04% to close at 28,456.59 while the Topix index rose 0.35% to end its trading day at 1,864.40.
Mainland Chinese stocks were lower on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 0.27% to 3,598.65 while the Shenzhen component shed 0.612% to 15,365.43.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was little changed, as of its final hour of trading. Hong Kong-listed shares of Lenovo jumped more than 10% after the Chinese PC maker said it plans to list stocks on Shanghai’s Science and Technology Innovation Board.
South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.71% to close at 3,148.29. Shares in Australia nudged higher on the day, as the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.11% to 6,686.60.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.55%.
The Japanese government is set to expand the state of emergency to more areas on Wednesday, according to local media reports. That comes after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas in a bid to stem a rise in coronavirus infections.
Meanwhile, local Chinese authorities in regions near Beijing are stepping up restrictions on social activity following a rise in new coronavirus cases.
Nomura Chief China Economist, Ting Lu, wrote in a note Monday: “The worsening coronavirus situation will impact economic activity, and markets may need to temper their expectations for strong pent-up consumption demand in the coming (Lunar New Year) holidays in mid-February.”
Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 60 points to close at 31,068.69. The Nasdaq Composite ended its trading day day up 0.3% at 13,072.43. The S&P 500 rose fractionally on the day to 3,801.19.
The moves stateside came as the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note briefly traded at 1.187%, its highest level since March. It later eased and was last at 1.1189%. Rates have been rising since Democrats secured majorities in both the House and Senate, opening up the door for additional fiscal stimulus.
Investors also watched for developments from Washington, as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday night he will not remove Trump from office. That came before the Democratic-held House approved a resolution urging Pence and the Cabinet to push Trump out of the White House after he incited last week’s riot on the Capitol.
Those developments came just days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.90 following an earlier high of 90.037.
The Japanese yen traded at 103.66 per dollar, stronger than levels above 104 against the greenback seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7771, having risen from levels below $0.77 touched earlier in the trading week.
Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.74% to $57.00 per barrel. U.S. crude futures rose 0.68% to $53.57 per barrel.