Asian Markets Climb on Vaccine Optimism and Drop in COVID-19 Infections
Asian shares advanced on Tuesday, lifted by the economic recovery, vaccine rollouts and signs that new coronavirus cases may be abating as mainland China remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, which returned to trade following holidays in the last few days, jumped 1.9% to close at 30,746.66.
Cinema stocks listed in Hong Kong surged on Tuesday, with IMAX China and Alibaba Pictures up 31.14% and 34.58%, respectively. Reuters reported Tuesday that Chinese box offices set a revenue record for the week beginning Feb. 11, citing data compiled by online ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.28% to close at 30,467.75 while the Topix index gained 0.57% on the day to 1,965.08. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.52% higher to close at 3,163.25.
Stocks in Australia also rose, with the S&P/ASX 200 closing 0.7% higher at 6,917.30 while the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.38%.
Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s February monetary policy meeting, released on Tuesday showed members concluding that “very significant monetary support would be required for some time as it would be some years before the Bank’s goals for inflation and unemployment were achieved.”
“Given this, it would be premature to consider withdrawing monetary stimulus,” the RBA added in the minutes.
Asian Markets Currencies and Oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.337 following its decline late last week from above 90.6.
The Japanese yen traded at 105.51 per dollar after weakening yesterday from levels below 105.2 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7776, still higher than levels below $0.772 seen last week.
Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.16% to $63.20 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.66% to $59.86 per barrel.