Global shares rise on hopes for US stimulus package

TOKYO (AP) – Global shares rose yesterday, lifted by hopes United States (US) President Joe Biden’s stimulus package will be enacted and by bargain-hunting after sell offs last week.

France’s CAC 40 added 1.5 per cent in early trading to 5,788.93, while Germany’s DAX edged up 1.3 per cent to 13,964.06. Britain’s FTSE 100 jumped 1.6 per cent to 6,590.00. US shares were set for gains. with the future for the Dow industrials at 31,249.50, up 1.1 per cent. The S&P 500 future was up 1.2 per cent at 3,854.38.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 2.4 per cent to finish at 29,663.50. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.7 per cent to 6,789.60.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1.6 per cent to 29,452.57, while the Shanghai Composite rose 1.2 per cent to 3,551.40, despite a survey showing slightly weaker manufacturing indicators for the month of February.

South Korean markets were closed for a national holiday. But the government reported that exports rose 9.5 per cent in February from a year earlier and imports jumped nearly 14 per cent, in signs the economy is picking up momentum.

A manufacturing survey for Japan showed an expansion in February for the first time since April 2019. The au Jibun purchasing managers index reading of 51.4 – on a scale of 1-100, where 50 and above show expansion – was a sharp improvement from the 49.8 level registered in January.

The survey showed improvements in many areas including higher sales and orders and higher exports, reflecting improved demand in overseas markets, especially China.

Asia’s export-reliant economies are counting on a healthy American economy to boost trade, which has tended to stagnate during the pandemic. As the region’s recovery begins to take off, vaccine rollouts are also gradually getting started in most Asian nations.

Worries about the economy, as well as about COVID-19, are still relatively widespread in Japan, which is seeing yet another wave of coronavirus cases. Some urban areas, like Osaka, have lifted measures to help prevent the spread of infections, but the Tokyo area remains under a “state of emergency,” focussed on having restaurants and other businesses close at 8 pm. Japan has never had a lockdown.