Asia report: Markets shine despite growing Covid case numbers
Markets in Asia were in the green across the board on Monday, with the Shenzhen bourse in China surging almost 3.5%, even as investors digested fresh coronavirus numbers from over the weekend.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 2.22% at 22,784.74, as the yen weakened 0.11% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 107.05.
Technology conglomerate SoftBank Group leapt 4.23%, while among the benchmark’s other major components, automation specialist Fanuc was up 3.24% and fashion firm Fast Retailing added 0.6%.
The broader Topix index was ahead 2.46% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,573.02.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was up 1.77% at 3,443.29, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite rocketed 3.48% to 2,329.40.
The strength for equities in China came even after US president Donald Trump said on Friday that Washington’s relationship with Beijing was “severely damaged” in the wake of Covid-19’s spread around the world.
Authorities in the US released a travel advisory for its citizens on Saturday, asking Americans to “exercise increased caution” in the People’s Republic, citing a “heightened risk of arbitrary detention”.
South Korea’s Kospi was up 1.67% at 2,186.06, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong managed gains of 0.17% to 25,772.12.
Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were stronger in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 1.33% and chipmaker SK Hynix adding 0.24%.
The rosy sentiment during the Asian session came despite a record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to the World Health Organization, with more than 230,000 new confirmed infections in a single 24-hour period.
In the US, Florida reported more than 15,000 new infections on Sunday, making for a record single day total of any state since the outbreak of Covid-19.
“Even though the pandemic is getting worse, stocks in Asia drove higher,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden, adding that the “feel-good factor” had spilled over into Europe at the start of the week.
“At the back end of last week, it was reported that Gilead Sciences’ ‘remdesivir’ - a potential treatment for Covid-19 - reduced the fatality rate in patients by 62%,” he noted.
Oil prices were lower at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last down 1.46% at $42.61 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate off 1.73% at $39.85.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.98% to settle at 5,977.50, as the big four banks all finished in positive territory.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group was up 1.86%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 2.11%, National Australia Bank gained 1.74%, and Westpac Banking Corporation advanced 1.76%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 gained 0.35% to 11,434.79, led higher by the country’s largest port operator, Port of Tauranga, which added 4%.
The down under dollars were in a mixed state against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.2% stronger at AUD 1.4361, while the Kiwi weakened 0.17% to NZD 1.5241.