Asian Shares Make Cautious Gains Amid Virus, Stimulus Worries
(RTTNews) - Asian stocks recovered from an early decline to end mostly higher on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged the much-needed Covid-19 stimulus would likely come after the Nov. 3 election.
Lingering worries about the recent spike in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe kept underlying sentiment cautious to some extent.
Chinese shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite index rising 14.92 points, or 0.46 percent, to 3,269.24 on optimism that the country is on solid path of economic recovery from the pandemic. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 0.32 percent to 24,708.80.
Japanese shares ended lower amid uncertainties from the Covid-19 flare-up and the U.S. presidential election. The Nikkei average slipped 67.29 points, or 0.29 percent, to 23,418.51, while the broader Topix index closed 0.31 percent lower at 1,612.55.
Insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings gave up 2.7 percent and Tokio Marine Holdings lost 3.6 percent.
Furniture retailer Otsuka Kagu jumped 33.1 percent on news its president would be stepping down. Shimano shares surged as much as 17 percent after the bicycle parts maker revised up its full-year earnings and revenue projections, citing greater utilization of bicycles during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Australian markets recovered from an early slide to finish marginally higher, led by healthcare and technology stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 ended up 6.70 points, or 0.11 percent, at 6,057.70, while the broader All Ordinaries index inched up 14.60 points, or 0.23 percent, to 6,261.80.
ANZ declined 1.7 percent as the lender flagged its half-year profit will be impacted by $528m worth of "significant items". NAB shed 1.1 percent and Westpac lost 1.4 percent.
Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search gave up 2-3 percent after crude oil prices fell to a three-week low overnight.
Healthcare stocks rose broadly, with medical device maker Resmed rallying 3.5 percent. Afterpay jumped 7.3 percent after the buy-now-pay-later firm reported that its underlying sales for the first quarter more than doubled from last year.
Gold miner Evolution Mining surged 4.1 percent and Northern Star Resources advanced 2.8 percent after safe-haven gold prices rose overnight.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that consumer prices in Australia were up an annual 0.7 percent in the third quarter of 2020, in line with expectations, following the 0.3 percent decline in the previous three months.
Seoul stocks rose to snap a two-day losing streak after a measure of the country's consumer confidence jumped the most since the global financial crisis in another upbeat sign for the economy. The Bank of Korea said its consumer confidence index jumped to 91.6 from 79.4 in September.
The benchmark Kospi rose 14.42 points, or 0.62 percent, to 2,345.26. Internet portal giant Naver soared 5.3 percent and its rival Kakao advanced 3.7 percent.
New Zealand shares finished marginally higher after steep losses the previous day. The benchmark NZX-50 inched up 12.61 points, or 0.10 percent to 12,264.52, after having fallen as much as 1.8 percent the previous day. Fisher and Paykel Healthcare Corp shares climbed 3.9 percent.
U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as investors reacted to a resurgence of coronavirus hospitalizations and continued uncertainty around a new U.S. stimulus package.
The day's economic reports proved to be a mixed bag, with durable goods orders increasing solidly in September while a measure of consumer confidence unexpectedly slipped in October.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8 percent and the S&P 500 eased 0.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.6 percent.
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