Markets

Asian Shares Advance On Coronavirus Treatment Hopes

(RTTNews) - Asian stocks rose on Monday as life started to return to normal in China and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the use of blood plasma to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients.

Investors now look ahead to a policy speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the Kansas City Fed Jackson Hold symposium later this week for more clarity on the direction of U.S. monetary policy.

Chinese shares ended slightly higher as several tech firms surged on their ChiNext debut. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index edged up 4.96 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3,385.64, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 1.74 percent.

Japanese stocks closed higher, though the upside remained limited amid speculation surrounding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's health. "I'd like to take care of my health and do my best at my job," Abe told reporters after visiting a Tokyo hospital this morning.

The Nikkei average inched up 65.21 points, or 0.28 percent, to 22,985.51, while the broader Topix index closed 0.19 percent higher at 1,607.13. Among the top gainers, Nintendo surged 4.8 percent and Mitsui & Co added 1.1 percent.

Australian markets eked out modest gains as fresh coronavirus infections slowed in Victoria. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 18.40 points, or 0.30 percent, to 6,129.60, snapping two straight sessions of losses. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 29.60 points, or 0.47 percent, at 6,300.30.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay surged 4.8 percent after it announced an acquisition in Europe. Energy companies fell broadly, with Origin Energy, Woodside Petroleum and Santos all falling over 1 percent after crude oil prices declined on Friday.

Airline Qantas Airways slumped 4.4 percent after it scrapped the executive role overseeing international services.

Fortescue Metals Group rallied 3.2 percent as the iron ore producer posted a record annual profit.

AMP rose over 1 percent. The wealth manager said that David Murray has resigned as the company's chairman while executives John Fraser and Boe Pahari have also stepped down from their current roles amid accountability concerns following a sexual harassment complaint against Pahari.

Seoul stocks rose for a second straight session even as authorities reported the highest daily rise in novel coronavirus cases since early March and the President said the country has no choice but to raise social distancing measures to the highest level if the Covid-19 spread isn't contained.

The benchmark Kospi rose 25.24 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,329.83 as investors went bargain hunting in large-cap stocks. Chipmaker SK Hynix gained 1.3 percent, top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics climbed 2.6 percent and internet portal giant Naver advanced 2.4 percent. Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, soared 3.53 percent.

New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark NZX 50 index ending up 85.13 points, or 0.72 percent, at 11,921.07, led by utilities and industrial companies.

Retail sales values in New Zealand plummeted 15 percent sequentially in the second quarter of 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown, Statistics New Zealand said in a report today - marking the largest drop on record going back 25 years.

Declines in value were led by food and beverage services as non-essential businesses closed temporarily for about half of the quarter during alert levels 4 and 3.

U.S. stocks rose on Friday after separate reports showed U.S. home sales rose a record-breaking 24.7 percent in July and U.S. business activity expanded at the fastest pace in over a year in August.

While the Dow gained 0.7 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 inched up 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively to reach fresh record closing highs.

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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