Markets

Asian Markets Higher On Coronavirus Vaccine Optimism

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets, with the exception of China, are higher on Wednesday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and on optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Biotech firm Moderna said its experimental vaccine for COVID-19, mRNA-1273, showed it was safe and produced strong immune responses in all 45 patients in an ongoing early-stage human trial.

The Australian market is advancing following the positive cues from Wall Street and on optimism about a coronavirus vaccine.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 73.90 points or 1.24 percent to 6,015.00, just off a high of 6,016.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 77.90 points or 1.29 percent to 6,123.40. Australian stocks closed lower on Tuesday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing almost 3 percent and BHP Group is rising more than 2 percent.

Gold miners are also higher even as gold prices edged down overnight. Newcrest Mining is higher by almost 3 percent and Evolution Mining is rising more than 2 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is gaining more than 5 percent, Santos is higher by more than 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Woodside Petroleum said it will incur writedowns of $4.37 billion in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus-induced slump in oil prices. The company also reported a 7 percent increase in production for the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, while sales revenue decreased 29 percent from the first quarter.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.4 percent each, while ANZ Banking is adding 0.1 percent and Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.01 percent.

Afterpay said it has signed deals with Apple and Google that will allow more people to use its payment service online and in retail stores. The services will initially roll out to shoppers in the U.S. this month. Shares of Afterpay are gaining almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6995, compared to $0.6954 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is rising on optimism about a coronavirus vaccine and as investors looked ahead to the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision due later today.

The BoJ is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at a record low of -0.1 percent, although the central bank may introduce some kind of additional stimulus.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 345.28 points or 1.53 percent to 22,932.29, after rising to a high of 22,948.39 earlier. Japanese shares closed lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing almost 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is edging down less than 0.1 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are rising more than 2 percent each, while Sony is adding more than 1 percent and Canon is up almost 1 percent.

In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.6 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.2 percent.

Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 4 percent and Toyota is advancing almost 2 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is declining more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is gaining almost 4 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by more than 3 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Nissan Motor is surging more than 8 percent and JGC Holdings is gaining almost 7 percent. JFE Holdings, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Mazda Motor Corp., Tokyo Seikan Group and Unitika are all rising more than 6 percent each.

Conversely, Eisai Co. is declining more than 2 percent and Kyowa Kirin is lower by almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore is rising more than 1 percent, while South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher. Bucking the trend, Shanghai is declining more than 1 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday, with the Dow showing a particularly strong upward move to reach its best closing level in a month. The spike by the Dow was partly attributed to traders transitioning out of big-name tech stocks and into more cyclical stocks like Caterpillar. Strong gains by energy giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil also contributed to the advance by the Dow, reflecting strength in the broader energy sector.

The Dow soared 556.79 points or 2.1 percent to 26,642.59 and the S&P 500 surged up 42.30 points or 1.3 percent to 3,197.53, which was also a one-month high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 97.73 points or 0.9 percent at 10,488.58.

The major European markets moved mostly lower on Tuesday, although the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index bucked the downtrend and inched up by 0.1 percent. The German DAX Index slumped by 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1 percent.

Crude oil futures ended slightly higher on Tuesday, with traders weighing global crude supply and demand positions and looking ahead to the outcome of the meeting of OPEC's Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, scheduled to take place on Wednesday. WTI crude for August delivery added $0.19 or about 0.5 percent to $40.29 a barrel.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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