Asian Shares Broadly Higher In Thin Holiday Trade

Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Monday after Wall Street’s main indexes set record highs on Friday amid signs of a slowdown in the rate of coronavirus infections and the progress being made with vaccines.

Japanese shares posted strong gains, with hopes for U.S. stimulus measures, solid domestic growth data and approval of Japan’s first vaccine boosting sentiment.

The Nikkei average gained 564.08 points, or 1.91 percent, to close at 30,084.15, marking its highest closing level since Aug. 2, 1990. Mining, precision instrument, and oil and coal product-linked issues were among the prominent gainers.

Japan’s GDP expanded a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 2.3 percent following the 5.3 percent gain in the previous three months.

On an annualized basis, GDP spiked 12.7 percent – again beating forecasts for a gain of 9.5 percent following the 22.9 percent surge in the three months prior.

Australian markets rose sharply as investors reacted to positive corporate earnings. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 62.20 points, or 0.91 percent, to 6,868.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 68.40 points, or 0.97 percent, at 7,149.70.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank surged 11.3 percent as it reported a 67 percent rise in half-year profit. Retailer JB Hi-Fi jumped over 3 percent after posting an 86 percent rise in first-half profit.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose around 2 percent while banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac gained between 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent.

Energy stocks ended broadly higher, with Oil Search rallying 3.5 percent after oil prices gained around 5 percent last week.

Seven West Media soared 6.4 percent after it struck a licensing deal with Google to provide content for the tech company’s News Showcase product.

Coca-Cola Amatil climbed 2.1 percent after the European arm of drinks giant Coca Cola raised its offer price in a takeover bid for the local operator.

Seoul stocks hit three-week highs after the release of upbeat exports data. The benchmark Kospi jumped 46.42 points, or 1.50 percent, to 3,147.00, the highest close since Jan 25 as trading resumed after a long holiday weekend.

South Korea’s exports surged an annual 69.1 percent during the first 10 days of February, customs agency data showed, driven by a sales boost in major export products and strong overseas demand. Market heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix rallied 3.2 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.

New Zealand shares fell notably as Auckland’s residents were plunged into a new three-day level 3 lockdown on Sunday and a survey showed the services sector in the country continued to contract in January, and at a faster pace. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 79.08 points, or 0.63 percent, to 12,510.56.

Markets in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong were closed for the Lunar New Year.

U.S. stocks closed at record highs on Friday as coronavirus cases continued to fall and data showed an unexpected deterioration in U.S. consumer sentiment, raising expectations for additional fiscal stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 both rose around half a percent.

Source: Read Full Article