Asian Shares Edge Higher After Trump Signs Coronavirus Relief Package

(RTTNews) - Asian stocks closed mostly higher with modest gains on Monday in subdued post-Christmas trading after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government spending package into law on Sunday, just days after he threatened not to sign the package and called it a "disgrace".

Trump's approval of the legislation extended the unemployment benefits being paid to about 14 million people into March and also averted a federal government shutdown.

Chinese shares closed little changed, while Hong Kong shares declined after Beijing stepped up its regulation of China's technology sector.

China's central bank reportedly ordered Ant Group, an Alibaba affiliate, to rectify its operations and comply with regulatory requirements. Meanwhile, Alibaba Group said it has increased its share repurchase program to $10 billion from $6 billion. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.72 points to 3,397.29, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 58.08 points or 0.2 percent to 26,328.48.

In Hong Kong, shares of Alibaba fell 8.9 percent, while Meituan lost 7.8 percent and Tencent dropped 7.1 percent.

Japanese shares closed higher following news that Trump signed the U.S. coronavirus relief bill. Nevertheless, investors turned cautious after data showed that Japan's industrial output stalled in November and the country confirmed its first case of the new COVID-19 strain in a Tokyo resident who recently returned from Britain.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 197.42 points or 0.7 percent to 26,854.03, while the broader Topix closed 9.63 points or 0.5 percent higher at 1,788.04.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group added 0.2 percent and Fast Retailing rose 0.7 percent. Toyota advanced more than 1 percent after the automaker said its global production increased 7 percent in November from a year earlier.

Among the major gainers, Kawasaki Heavy Industries rose more than 5 percent, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hino Motors gained almost 5 percent each.

The Nikkei reported that Mitsubishi Heavy is constructing the world's largest steel plant that is capable of attaining net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, at a complex of Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine.

Conversely, Sharp Corp. fell more than 3 percent, while JTEKT Corp., Dena Co. and J Front Retailing all lost almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that industrial output in Japan was flat on a seasonally adjusted basis in November. That missed expectations for an increase of 1.2 percent following the 4.0 percent gain in October.

Seoul stocks closed at a record high following news that Trump has signed the coronavirus relief and government funding bill. However, the market pared early gains amid worries about the new, highly transmissible coronavirus strain that was confirmed in three arrivals into the country from Britain.

The benchmark Kospi added 1.74 points to finish at 2,808.60, after rising to an all-time record high of 2,834.59 in early morning trades.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics added 1.2 percent, while chipmaker SK Hynix lost 2.1 percent. Automaker Hyundai Motor rose 1.3 percent and steelmaker POSCO advanced 0.9 percent.

The Australian and New Zealand markets were closed on Monday in observance of Boxing Day.

The U.S. and European markets were closed on Friday for the Christmas Day holidays.

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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