Asian stocks mixed amid concern over coronavirus hotspots

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed yesterday after Wall Street closed little-changed as optimism about a possible global economic recovery was tempered by concern over rising coronavirus infections. Tokyo and Shanghai advanced while Hong Kong and Seoul retreated.

Global markets have recovered most of this year’s losses as investors look ahead to a possible rebound from the deepest economic slump since the 1930s. But analysts said gains might be too big and too fast to sustain. Enthusiasm has been dented by rising case numbers in Brazil, some United States (US) states and other areas.

Asian investors “will feel encouraged” by China’s quick response to this week’s new infections in Beijing, but sentiment “remained toned down” following a surge in US cases, Stephen Innes of AxiTrader Corp said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4 per cent to 2,950.74 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.6 per cent to 22,485.55. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost under 0.1 per cent to 24,448.16 and Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.4 per cent to 2,125.32.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Australia added 0.3 per cent to 5,950.40 and India’s Sensex opened up 0.3 per cent to 34,304.21. New Zealand advanced while Singapore and Bangkok declined.

A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) and the foreign exchange rate between USD and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul. PHOTO: AP

On Thursday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 edged up by 0.1 per cent to 3,115.34 after flipping between small gains and losses through the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 per cent to 26.080.10, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3 per cent to 9,943.05.

Markets worldwide gained after unexpectedly strong US jobs and retail sales data fuelled hopes the world’s biggest economy can pull out of its recession as governments ease up on anti-virus measures.

“There has been a more broad-based improvement in growth trends around the world,” said Morgan Stanley economists in a report. “High frequency indicators suggest that we are seeing a further acceleration in growth in June as compared to May.”

Investor enthusiasm has been dented, however, by concern rising infections in some US states, Brazil and other regions might prompt consumers and businesses to pull back spending even if sweeping lockdowns aren’t reimposed.

Sentiment also has been supported by aid from central banks.

On Thursday, the Bank of England increased the size of its bond-buying programme to keep interest rates low. A day earlier, the Federal Reserve said it will keep interest rates close to zero and purchase a wider range of bonds to inject money into the financial system.

The S&P 500 has cut its loss for the year to eight per cent.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude gained 32 cents to USD39.16 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled on Thursday at USD38.84. Brent crude, the benchmark for international prices, advanced 33 cents to USD41.84 per barrel in London. It settled at USD41.51 per barrel the previous session.

The dollar fell to USD106.85 from Thursday’s USD106.96. The euro rose to EUR1.1216 from EUR1.1213.