The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes closed mixed but mostly higher on Wednesday as investors remained doggedly upbeat on the outlook for a re-opening of the global economy even as cases of the coronavirus looked to be accelerating to new peaks.
Weakness prevailed in Hong Kong with the Hang Seng Index falling after Tencent’s stock slipped 1.33% after touching a new record high earlier in the session. Meanwhile in South Korea, the KOSPI rose 1.42%, led by a 2.92% surge in Samsung Electronics and a 2.26% advance by chipmaker SK Hynix.
On Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22534.32, down 14.73 or -0.07%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24781.58, down 125.76 or -0.50% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2161.51, up 30.27 or 1.42%.
China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2979.55, up 8.93 or +0.30% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5965.70, up 11.30 or +0.19%.
Stateside Coronavirus Situation Rattles Investors
Investors were a little tentative throughout the session on Wednesday after White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that parts of the U.S. are beginning to see a “disturbing surge” of Covid-19 cases.
In a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fauci said he is “quite concerned” about the rise in coronavirus cases in states that “reflect an increase in community spread.” He did also say, however, that states with growing coronavirus outbreaks may not need to do an “absolute shutdown.”
Hong Kong Stocks End Lower as Energy Weighs
Hong Kong stocks fell on Wednesday, weighed down by energy companies, while signs of an increase in coronavirus cases added to pressure.
The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares dipped 1.9%, while the IT sector rose 0.25%, the financial sector ended 0.38% lower and the property sector dipped 0.55%.
The top gainer on the Hang Seng was AAC Technologies Holdings Inc, which gained 5.44%, while the biggest loser was CITIC Ltd, which fell 2.61%.
Traders were primarily driven by the news that China will press the brakes on crude imports in the third quarter, after record purchases in recent months, as higher oil prices hurt demand and refiners worry about a second virus outbreak, analysts and sources told Reuters.
China Stocks Set for Weekly Gains on Upbeat Data, Beijing’s Reforms
China stocks rose on Wednesday, set to close the shortened three-session week on a firmer note, as investors cheered improving data from key economies and Beijing’s latest reforms in its capital markets. The Shenzhen’s tech-heavy start-up board index advanced 2.3% so far this week, poised for its fifth straight weekly gain.
China’s stock market will be closed on Thursday and Friday for the Dragon Boat Festival.
Investors have been paying more attention to Beijing’s reforms in its capital markets, rather than to other factors, including the Sino-U.S. trade tensions and the coronavirus outbreak, which has been brought under control now, said Yan Kaiwen, an analyst with China Fortune Securities.
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