Portfolio

Asia report: Most markets rise on hopes of virus slowdown

By Josh White

Date: Tuesday 07 Apr 2020

Asia report: Most markets rise on hopes of virus slowdown

(Sharecast News) - Most markets in Asia finished in positive territory on Tuesday, with stocks in China surging amid hopes the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic could be slowing.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 2.01% at 18,950.18, as the yen strengthened 0.2% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 109.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 1.16%, fashion firm Fast Retailing added 1.41%, and technology giant SoftBank Group was ahead 2.81%.

The broader Topix index added 1.96% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing the session at 1,403.21.

Moves higher in Japan came after prime minister Shinzo Abe said the size of the country's coronavirus stimulus package would total JPY 39trn in spending.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was ahead 2.05% at 2,820.76, and the smaller, technology-focussed Shenzhen Composite rose 3.18% to 1,743.37.

South Korea's Kospi was 1.77% higher at 1,823.60, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 2.12% firmer at 24,253.29.

Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were stronger in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 1.85% and chipmaker SK Hynix rising 3.25%.

Global mood had started the week positively on Monday, amid signs the Covid-19 pandemic could be slowing down as a number of affected countries continue unprecedented lockdowns on society.

On Tuesday, South Korea reported less than 50 new confirmed cases for the second day in a row, while China recorded no new deaths on Monday for the first time since it began its daily updates in January.

By the end of the Asian day, more than 1.3 million Covid-19 infections had been confirmed globally, while almost 75,000 fatalities had been recorded.

"With no daily coronavirus deaths in China for the first time since January, Germany aiming to end its lockdown after April 19, a falling daily death toll in Spain, improvements in Italy and signs of stabilisation in New York, investors puffed their chests out in an act of trading bravado on Tuesday," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

"Of course, for all those ostensible positives, you could compile an equally alarming list of negatives.

"France just recorded its highest daily death tally so far, [UK] prime minister Boris Johnson is in intensive care due to his coronavirus infection, Japan is preparing to declare a state of emergency and the brewing unemployment crisis in America is routinely being ignored by the markets."

Oil prices were managing gains by the end of the Asian session, with Brent crude last up 2.19% at $33.79 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 2.83% to $26.84.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was the odd one out among the region's benchmarks, losing 0.65% to settle at 5,252.30.

That came after the Reserve Bank of Australia stood pat on interest rates, leaving its official cash rate unchanged at 0.25%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was 0.47% stronger at 9,809.85, with airport operator AIAL rising 6.9% as it resumed trading.

The company, which runs the country's largest airport in Auckland, raised NZD 1bn in a bid to underpin its balance sheet as it grappled with a near-total collapse in both inbound tourism and domestic air travel amid the pandemic.

Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 1.61% at AUD 1.6161 and the Kiwi advancing 0.96% to NZD 1.6705.

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