Asian Shares Inch Higher On U.S. Stimulus Cheer

Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Friday, reflecting investor optimism over the passing of the $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus package and the European Central Bank’s move to slow the rise in long-term borrowing costs.

Chinese shares ended a choppy session higher amid renewed focus on U.S.-China relations after the Biden administration amended licenses for companies to sell to telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 16.25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,453.08, although Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 645.89 points, or 2.2 percent, at 28,739.72.

Japanese shares gained ground as encouraging U.S. labor market data and easing bond yields stoked hopes about a swifter economic recovery from the pandemic.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 506.19 points, or 1.7 percent, to 29.717.83, while the broader Topix closed 1.4 percent higher at 1,951.06.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group rose 3.4 percent, and Screen Holdings, Tokyo Electron and Advantest surged 4-5 percent in the tech space.

Australian markets posted solid gains at the end of the week, with tech and commodity-related stocks leading the surge. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 52.90 points, or 0.8 percent, to 6,766.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 61.70 points, or 0.9 percent, at 7,014.60.

Tech shares outperformed, tracking the Nasdaq’s 2.5 percent gain overnight. Afterpay and Appen rose 2-3 percent, while Xero soared 4.9 percent.

Miners BHP and Fortescue Metals Group gained over 2 percent after a strong rebound in iron ore and metal prices. Mineral Resources surged 5.4 percent and OZ Minerals jumped 6 percent.

Origin Energy rallied 3.8 percent and Oil Search added 1.8 percent as Brent crude prices hovered near $70 a barrel.

Banks ended on a flat note after a retreat in bond yields. Southern Cross Media Group slumped 10.4 percent after broadcaster Nine Entertainment said it would not extend its regional television affiliation agreement with the company.

Seoul stocks extended gains from the previous session as inflation concerns eased. The benchmark Kospi surged up 40.69 points, or 1.4 percent, to 3,054.39.

Pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics jumped 3.9 percent, while chipmaker SK Hynix advanced 2.2 percent and automaker Hyundai Motor gained 1.8 percent.

New Zealand shares rallied after the country unveiled a NZ$31 billion ($22.41 billion) transport infrastructure package for its largest city, Auckland. The benchmark NZX 50 Index climbed 154.29 points, or 1.3 percent, to 12,426.77.

The manufacturing sector in New Zealand continued to expand in February, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from BusinessNZ revealed today, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 53.4, down from the upwardly revised 58.0 in January.

U.S. stocks hit record highs overnight as investors cheered a $1.9 trillion spending injection from the federal government and data showing a decrease in jobless claims last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared 2.5 percent.

Source: Read Full Article