Asian shares rise amid cautious outlook for global economy

TOKYO (AP) – Asian shares rose moderately yesterday amid cautious optimism about a global rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark closed less than 0.1 per cent higher at 29,685.37, in the first Tokyo market reaction to a weekend by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga with President Joe Biden over the weekend.

Suga also spoke with the Pfizer chief executive, asking to ensure a more steady supply of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. Japan has lagged other wealthy nations, with barely one per cent of its population inoculated so far.

The government measures against COVID-19 infections already in some urban areas, including Tokyo, are being expanded to other areas of Japan, starting today, but the cities of Tokyo and Osaka are considering strengthening them to a “state of emergency.” Japan has never had a lockdown, and its laws would need to be changed for such action.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched up less than 0.1 per cent to 7,065.60, while South Korea’s Kospi also was little changed, at 3,198.84. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 per cent to 29,106.10. The Shanghai Composite gained 1.5 per cent to 3,477.74.

Even though the possibility of faster delivery of vaccines was a plus, the summit between Biden and Suga has added to tension with China, noted Chief Market Economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Yoshimasa Maruyama.

“The Suga administration has taken a risk in China relations, in accordance to the US request,” Maruyama said.