Asian Shares Rise On Economic Recovery Hopes

Asian stocks rose broadly on Monday, reflecting investor optimism about the coronavirus vaccine rollout and the stimulus-driven global economic recovery.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Saturday, paving the way for its distribution.

U.S. President Joe Biden scored his first legislative win as the House of Representatives passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package early Saturday.

Chinese shares rose after the latest survey from Caixin showed the manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in February, albeit at a slower pace, with a manufacturing PMI score of 50.9, down from 51.5 in January.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 42.32 points, or 1.2 percent, to end at 3,551.40, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 472.36 points, or 1.6 percent, to 29,452.57.

Japanese stocks posted strong gains as focus shifted to the Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting through March 19 and the lifting of the coronavirus-related state of emergency in six prefectures outside the Tokyo region.

There was some cheer on the data front, with a survey showing that Japan climbed into expansion territory in February with a 22-month high manufacturing PMI score of 51.4.

The Nikkei 225 Index rallied 697.49 points, or 2.4 percent, to 29,663.50 – the biggest daily point gain in nearly nine months. The broader Topix closed percent higher at 1,902.48.

Real estate and healthcare stocks were among the top gainers. Tech shares rebounded from Friday’s losses, with Tokyo Electron, Screen Holdings and Advantest climbing 2-4 percent.

Australian markets rallied after pandemic-related restrictions were eased in some of the country’s most populous states. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 116.30 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,789.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 102.10 points, or 1.5 percent, at 7,042.70.

Tech shares rebounded, with Afterpay surging 5.1 percent and Altium gaining 2.7 percent. Healthcare stocks also rose broadly, with heavyweight CSL rising 2.9 percent.

The big four banks rose between 1.6 percent and 3.1 percent. Gold miners succumbed to selling pressure as bullion prices slumped on a stronger dollar and elevated U.S. Treasury yields. Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources both fell about 2.6 percent.

Shipbuilder Austal soared 8.4 percent on new order win. Airline Regional Express jumped 6.6 percent after announcing more flights to Adelaide and Australia’s Gold Coast.

In economic news, reports on manufacturing, company profits and housing loan commitments proved to be a mixed bag.

New Zealand shares recovered from an early slide to finish higher as Auckland went into a seven-day lockdown after the emergence of a new local case of the coronavirus of unknown origin.

The benchmark NZX-50 Index ended up 74.52 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,301.81. Markets in South Korea and Taiwan were closed for holidays.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday as yields fluctuated after the release of another batch of largely upbeat U.S. economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.5 percent and the S&P 500 dropped half a percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.6 percent after ending Thursday’s session at its lowest closing level in a nearly month.

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