Asian Markets Rise, Oil Follows as Investors Watch Trump’s COVID-19 Developments

Oil prices saw a rebound in Monday trade following a Friday drop as investors continue to watch for developments on U.S. President Donald Trump’s health after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

In the afternoon of Asian trading hours, international benchmark Brent crude futures were up 2.55% to $40.27 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also surged 2.89% to $38.12 per barrel. Last week, after Trump announced his positive test, oil prices had slumped as much as more than 3%.

Shares of oil companies regionally were mixed. In Australia, Beach Energy rose 5.6% while Santos gained 4.71%. Japan’s Inpex jumped 4.34%. Over in Hong Kong, however, shares of PetroChina slipped 1.32% and CNOOC declined 1.21%.

Investors likely continued to monitor developments surrounding Trump’s health, with questions surfacing after his doctors announced Sunday that they had begun treating him with dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for severe cases of Covid-19. Still, the U.S. president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Sunday that his condition has improved and may be discharged as soon as Monday.

The U.S. president was transferred to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday after he was given antiviral drug remdesivir.

Shares in Australia led gains among the region’s major markets, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 2.59% to close at 5,941.60 as shares of the country’s major banks surged: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group gained 4.22%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 3.56%, Westpac rose 4.35% and National Australia Bank soared 4%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.32% on the day to 23,767.78, with shares of HSBC soaring 4.03%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.23% to close at 23,312.14 while the Topix index gained 1.74% to finish its trading day at 1,637.25. South Korea’s Kospi added 1.29% on the day to 2,358.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.12% while markets in China were closed on Monday for a holiday.

In corporate developments, New Zealand-listed shares of Fonterra Co-operative Group edged 0.25% higher on Monday after it announced an agreement to sell its China farms.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China’s largest chipmaker, fell 4.64% on Monday after the firm announced Sunday it has undertaken “preliminary exchanges” with the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security on export restrictions.

“The Company is conducting assessments on the relevant impact of such export restrictions on the Company’s production and operation activities. As the supply period of certain equipment, accessories and raw materials exported from the U.S. will be extended or are subject to uncertainties, it may have potential material adverse effects on the Company’s future production and operations,” SMIC said in a filing to the Hong Kong exchange.

In September, shares of SMIC plunged after the U.S. government announced it was considering putting export restrictions on the company. Sanctions on the chipmaker hit at the heart of China’s tech ambitions at a time when tensions are rising between Beijing and Washington.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 93.705 after its decline last week from levels above 94.4.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.64 per dollar after strengthening sharply late last week to levels around 105 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7177 after its rise last week from levels below $0.707.

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