Asian Pacific Stocks Edge Higher, Hong Kong Leads Gains
Shares in Hong Kong led gains in Asia-Pacific during Wednesday trade as Chinese tech stocks listed in the city jumped.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led to gains among the region’s major markets as it rose 1.24% by the afternoon.
Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese tech firms saw a rebound in Wednesday trade after 12 companies, including Baidu, JD.com and Meituan, signalled compliance with antitrust laws.
By Wednesday afternoon in Hong Kong, shares of Baidu were up 3.02% while JD.com gained 2.35% and Meituan surged 4.42%.
That development came just a day after Beijing gave so-called platform companies a month to examine their actions and rectify any anti-competitive practices. Shares of most Chinese tech giants in Hong Kong tumbled on Tuesday amid those regulatory fears.
Mainland Chinese stocks also edged higher as the Shanghai composite gained 0.15% while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.977%.
In Southeast Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore slipped 0.3%. That came despite data showing the country’s economy unexpectedly grew 0.2% in the first quarter of 2021 as compared with a year earlier, according to official advance estimates released Wednesday.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares nudged 0.6% higher.
Investors watched for market reaction to a Tuesday announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking states to temporarily halt using Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after six women in the country developed a rare blood-clotting disorder. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. to date.
Meanwhile, Moderna said Tuesday that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting against Covid and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose. Globally, more than 137 million cases of Covid infections have been recorded and the death toll from the disease has crossed the 2.9 million mark, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Asian Markets Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.754 after touching an earlier low of 91.727.
The Japanese yen traded at 108.90 per dollar, stronger than levels above 109.5 against the greenback seen yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.766, above levels below $0.762 seen earlier this week.
Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.66% to $64.09 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 0.68% to $60.59 per barrel.