Asia-Pacific Shares Settle Mixed on Second Wave Concerns

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed but mostly lower on Monday as investors reacted to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases with most of the surge occurring stateside. The price action suggests investors are taking a cautious approach as they deal with the conflict between exuberance over the reopening of several economies and the real danger of second wave infections risk.

On Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22437.27, down 41.52 or -0.18%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24515.23, down 128.66 or -0.52% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2126.73, down 14.59 or -0.68%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2965.27, down 2.36 or -0.08% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 5944.50, up 1.90 or +0.03%.

Rising Number of Coronavirus Cases in the US

Investors reacted to a jump in the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with more than 30,000 new infections reported on Friday and Saturday – the highest daily totals since May 1 – according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, in China, an official said Sunday that Beijing is capable of screening almost 1 million people a day for the coronavirus. That development came in reaction to a recent cluster of infections that was found in the city.

China Holds Rates Steady

China kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged on Monday, with the 1-year loan prime rate left at 3.85%. The 5-year loan prime rate was also kept steady at 4.65%.

The move left the benchmark lending rate unchanged for the second straight month at its June fixing, matching market expectations, after the central bank kept borrowing costs on medium-term loans steady last week.

China’s Startup Board Index Hits 4-1/2-Year High on Fresh Reforms

China’s startup board index hit its highest in more than four years on Monday, as investors cheered Beijing’s fresh reforms in its capital markets to help bolster the world’s second-largest economy.

The start-up board ChiNext Composite Index climbed 1.01%, its highest since January 7, 2016.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, China said it would revamp its benchmark equity index by introducing more high-tech strength and removing loss-making companies.

The inclusion of STAR stocks in the SSEC will make its structure more reasonable and representative, as STAR companies represent the development direction of China’s economy, Ma Wenyu, analyst at Shanxi Securities noted in report.

The reforms would bode well for the equities market, while securities and tech stocks would benefit first, Ma added.

Tokyo Shares Dip on Worries Over Rising Coronavirus Cases

Japanese shares edged lower on Monday, moving in a narrow range, as worries about the growing number of coronavirus infections across the world kept investors on edge.

The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the biggest rise in North and South America.

Sentiment was also weighed by iPhone maker Apple Inc. announcing a temporary shutdown of its 11 stores in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina and North Carolina on Friday.

The announcement hit Apple-related stocks in Japan, with Alps Alpine, Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Rohm Co. Ltd. Falling between 0.67% and 1.25%.

Some market players said the rising daily infections in Tokyo dampened hopes of Japan’s economic recovery, others noted that its impact was small.

“It is not regarded as a huge risk, at least in Japanese markets, since Japan is still far from an outbreak that could lead to restrictions being imposed again,” said Yutaka Masushima, market analyst at Monex Securities in Tokyo.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asia-Pacific Stocks Retreat as Second Wave Fears Grows; Chinese Economic Data Misses Expectations

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes tumbled on Monday and oil prices trended lower as fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections in Beijing sent investors scurrying for safe-haven assets while underwhelming data from China weighed on investor sentiment.

Monday’s losses follow last week’s volatile sessions which saw the strong rally in global equities since late March, fueled by central bank and fiscal stimulus as countries gradually lifted restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, come to a screeching halt.

At 05:00 GMT, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is trading 21987.94, down 317.54 or -1.42%. Hong Kong Hang Seng Index is at 24150.85, down 150.53 or -0.62% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index is trading 2115.64, down 16.66 or -0.78%.

China’s Shanghai Index is trading 2919.48, down 0.26 or -0.01%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index settled at 5804.30, down 43.50 or -0.74%.

The price action suggests investors are being very cautious as they put into perspective that the COVID-19 issue has not been resolved yet.

Risk sentiment took a knock after Beijing recorded dozens of new COVID-19 cases in recent days, all linked to a major wholesale food market. Authorities have closed the center and locked down nearby housing districts.

Meanwhile, investors are also fretting over a spike in cases in the United States where more than 25,000 new cases were reported on Saturday.

Economic Data From China Did Little to Revive Risk Appetite

China’s industrial output expanded 4.4% in May from a year earlier but the gain was less than expected, official data showed on Monday, suggesting the economy is still struggling to get back on track after the coronavirus crisis.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected growth to quicken slightly to 5.0% from a year earlier as more businesses resumed production, following a rise of 3.9% in April, the first expansion since the virus emerged from China late last year.

Retail sales fell 2.8% on-year, more than a predicted 2.0% decline, but pointing to some signs of recovery in consumer demand after a 7.5% drop in April.

Sales have fallen for four straight months as shops, restaurants and other crowded places closed during the pandemic. Though strict anti-virus measures have been relaxed, consumers remain wary.

Fixed asset investment fell 6.3% in January-May from the same period last year, compared with a forecast 5.9% fall and a 10.3% decline in the first four months of the year.

Private sector fixed-asset investment, which accounts for 60% of total investment, fell 9.6% in January-May, compared with a 13.3% decline in the first four months of the year.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asia-Pacific Shares End Lower as Volatility Looms

Stocks in Asia Pacific retreated for a second session on Friday, led by a more than 2% drop in South Korea. The selling was driven by the overnight rout on Wall Street amid fears of a second wave resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Volatility has moved to the forefront with two trains of thought likely to fuel a two-sided trade that could lead to whip-saw action. One group of investors see the move as a positive, designed to alleviate some of the upside pressure. The other sees the steep sell-off as the start of a period of uncertainty driven by more cautious investors.

On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22305.48, down 167.43 or -0.75%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24301.38, down 178.77 or -0.73% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2132.30, down 44.48 or -2.04%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2919.74, down 1.16 or -0.04% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5847.80, down 112.80 or -1.89%.

A Pullback is Needed

“The market needed a breather,” Shaw and Partners’ Senior Investment Adviser Adam Dawes told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday. “We’re really confident and comfortable with a pullback because … it’s somewhat needed going forward.”

“For the Australian market and for Asia markets this is a really good pullback,” Dawes said. “It’s now starting to give us some good opportunities to pick up some stocks that we’ve missed out previously.”

Or a New Period of Caution Begins

“Yesterday’s new infection numbers brought the total number of US COVID-19 cases to above two million, with a number of localized hotspots – 18 states are seeing an increase, including Arizona, Florida, Texas and parts of California. And globally, Wednesday’s new case load of 135,000 is the highest daily tally to date,” Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

“Whether the latest COVID-19 news is fanning concerns about fresh lockdowns with all that entails for economic activity, or (and perhaps more realistic, in the US at least) a more extended period of cautious consumer behavior, it is doubtless a factor behind the sharp falls in stocks,” Attrill said.

China Stocks End Only Marginally Lower on Capital Market Reform Hopes

China stocks recouped earlier losses to finish only slightly lower on Friday, led by tech, as investors cheered Beijing’s pledge to push forward with capital market reforms, Reuters reported.

Investors in the A-Share market were encouraged after Beijing said it would publish reform policies for the Shenzhen start-up board to bolster its capital markets. The reforms are part of Beijing’s continued efforts to seek tech self-sufficiency following its launch of STAR Market last July.

Reuters also reported that China will ensure the special funds allocated from the central government this year will reach city and county levels directly to support firms and residents in difficulties, vice finance minister Xu Hongcai told reporters on Friday.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asian Shares Tumble after Fed Challenges Investor Optimism; Aussie Shares Plunge 3%

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were down across the board on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve challenged investor optimism with a gloomy prediction the U.S. economy would shrink 6.5% in 2020 and unemployment would still be at 9.3% at year’s end. Still, stock losses were modest given the scale of their recent rise.

Although the downbeat economic outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve stoked speculation it would have to add to already historic levels of stimulus to safeguard recovery, investors still decided to book profits. In this case, the promise for more stimulus was interpreted as bearish because it may be an indication that the economy is not on the fast-track to recovery as investors have hoped.

On Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22472.91, down 652.04 or -2.82%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24480.15, down 569.58 or -2.27% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2176.78, down 18.91 or -0.86%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2920.90, down 22.86 or -0.78% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5960.60, down 187.80 or -3.05%.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell:  ‘Not Even Thinking about Raising Rates’

Shortly before the Fed announcements, data showed core U.S. consumer prices fell for a third straight month in May, the longest stretch of declines on record.

As a result, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he was “not even thinking about raising rates”. Instead, he emphasized recovery would be a long road and that policy would have to be proactive with rates near zero out to 2022.

The Fed did not commit to any new actions at this meeting with most of the focus on downside risks and uncertainty in the economy. This assessment seemed to splash water on the V-Shaped recovery theory being pushed by stock market investors.

Furthermore, it left the door open for further stimulus measures, perhaps as early as September. Policymakers did not indicate they would try to flatten the yield curve, but comments indicate they may be open to moving to some form of interest rate caps.

Australian Shares Plunge More Than 3 Percent

The Australian stock market was notably lower on Thursday after the Federal Reserve projected a sharp contraction for the U.S. economy this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and indicated that interest rates are likely to remain at current near-zero levels through 2022.

In addition, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or QECD said the global economy is undergoing the deepest recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The big four banks were among the major losers. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac were lower by 3.1 percent to 3.4 percent, while Commonwealth Bank was lower by more than 2 percent.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asia Pacific Shares Settle Mixed on China Inflation Data Miss, Jitters Ahead of Fed Announcements

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Wednesday with some edging higher a 10th consecutive session, but upside momentum was a struggle as doubts about the global recovery from the pandemic returned ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the day stateside.

The ebb and flow movement in the indexes put a lid on some of the indexes after two weeks of gains that were fueled by growing optimism over a swift recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by the global economy.

On Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 23124.95, up 33.92 or +0.15%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2195.69, up 6.77 or +0.31% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is trading 25042.53, down 14.69 or -0.06%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2943.75, down 12.36 or -0.42% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6148.40, up 3.50 or +0.06%.

China Factory Gate Deflation Deepens on Global Demand Slump

China’s producer prices fell by the sharpest rate in more than four years, underscoring pressure on the manufacturing sector as the COVID-19 pandemic reduces trade flows and global demand, Reuters reported.

The producer price index (PPI) in May fell 3.7% from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement on Wednesday, the sharpest decline since March 2016. That compared with a 3.3% drop tipped by a Reuters poll of analysts and a 3.1% fall in April.

China CPI – Weakest Reading Since March 2019

China’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.4% from a year earlier – the weakest reading since March 2019 – compared with a 3.3% increase in April, as food prices continued to ease. Analysts had projected a 2.7% rise.

That was largely due to slowing food prices, which rose 10.6% in May from a year earlier, versus a 14.8% rise in April. Food price increases in May were led by an 81.7% rise in pork prices, compared with a 96.9% jump previously, the data showed.

Core Inflation – which excludes food and energy costs – remained benign last month at 1.1%, unchanged from April’s rise.

Japan’s Machinery Orders, Wholesale Prices Sink as Pandemic Hits Business Spending

Japan’s machinery orders slumped in April at their quickest pace in nearly two years, as a drop in demand and company profits caused by the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed business spending.

Separate data showed May wholesale prices fell at the fastest annual pace in nearly four years, keeping alive market fears Japan may slide back into deflation.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asia-Pacific Shares Mostly Higher; Nikkei Pressured by Stronger Yen, Aussie Shares Close at 3-Month High

The major Asia-Pacific shares finished mostly higher on Tuesday, following Wall Street higher. The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 Index erased earlier losses and entered positive territory for the year. The rally was primarily driven by the lifting of coronavirus lockdowns in many countries that fed investor hopes of a relatively quick global economic recovery. Shares in Japan finished lower while Australian equities soared over two-percent.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 23091.03, down 87.07 or -0.38%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2188.92, up 4.63 or +0.21% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 25233.85, up 457.08 or +1.84%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2956.11, up 18.34 or +0.62% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 finished at 6144.90, up 146.20 or +2.44%.

Firmer Japanese Yen Weighs on Nikkei 225 Index

Japanese shares ended lower on Tuesday, slipping from a three-and-a-half-month high hit in the previous session, as a firmer Yen weighed on the market, with automakers and chip-related companies leading the decline.

Highly cyclical iron and steel, sea transport and non-ferrous metals were the worst three performing sectors on the main bourse.

As a firmer yen hurts Japanese manufacturers’ profits made abroad when repatriated, shares of export-oriented automakers came under pressure, with Nissan Motor tumbling 4.8% and Mazda Motor falling 3.1%.

Australia Shares Finish at 3-Month High on Swift Economic Turnaround Hopes

Australian shares on Tuesday settled at their highest in three months, with financials leading the gains, as hopes of a speedy economic rebound from the coronavirus-triggered slump bolstered risk appetite.

A measure of Australian business conditions showed that activity and confidence last month bounced back from lows in April as virus-induced curbs are rolled back and the economy restarts, though the survey’s stayed in recessionary territory overall.

Heavyweight financials led gains on the benchmark, rising 4.8% with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp. leading the charge.

The banks are relieved that the economy is not doing as badly as initially feared and that investors are hunting for bargains while they still trade at lows, said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday, Reuters reported.

Other News

In corporate news out of Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday that the Hong Kong government will bail Cathay Pacific out with 30 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3.87 billion) in loans and a direct stake. Trading of the Cathay Pacific’s shares in Hong Kong were earlier halted on Tuesday.

Shares of Samsung Group companies in South Korea were mixed on Tuesday afternoon as they shed earlier gains. Investors reacted to the news that a court in Seoul rejected an arrest warrant on the conglomerate’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, according to local news agency Yonhap.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asian Stocks Bump Against 3-Month Highs; China Exports Contract in May

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished higher on Monday on the back of Friday’s surprisingly robust U.S. jobs. The unexpected recovery in U.S. employment lifted hopes of a quicker global economic revival after many weeks of lockdowns aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic.

Although some analysts cast doubts over the validity of the U.S. employment numbers, the concerns were not strong enough to derail the risk driven stock market rally. Some analysts looked to the bright side, however.

“As we get more and more data that perhaps confirms that the economy is really on the mend and the second wave of infections may not be very severe, then that will boost confidence even further,” said Vasu Menon, senior investment strategist at OCBC Bank Wealth Management.

On Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 23178.10, up 314.37 or +1.37%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24783.95, up 13.54 or +0.05% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2184.29, up 2.42 or +0.11%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2937.77, up 6.97% or +0.24% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 5998.70, up 6.90 or +0.12%.

US Jobs Report Underpins Markets

Monday’s wave of optimism was triggered by U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls, which unexpectedly rose by 2.509 million jobs last month – versus consensus estimates of a fall of 8 million jobs after a record plunge of 20.687 million in April.

The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report also showed a surprise fall in the jobless rate to 13.3% last month from 14.7% in April, a post-World War II high.

Fresh Chinese Data Reveals Coronavirus Impact on Economy

Chinese trade data published on Sunday also revealed the impact from the coronavirus crisis.

Exports contracted in May as global lockdowns continued to sink demand, while a sharper-than-expected fall in imports pointed to mounting pressure on manufacturers as world growth stalls, according to Reuters. Still, the country posted a record trade surplus last month as imports dropped.

Revised Japanese GDP Data Shows Smaller Contraction

In Japan, revised gross domestic product data for the first quarter showed the economy contracted less than initially thought, though the outlook suggested the nation was facing its worst postwar slump due to the pandemic, Reuters reported.

Japanese markets hardly budged after the revised data as traders have already priced in a steep economic downturn in the current quarter. Economists are forecasting an annualized GDP contraction of more than 20% in the current quarter.

Despite the revised data, most analysts maintained their pessimistic outlook for the economy.

“The upward revision to Q1 GDP displayed in the revised estimate is cold comfort given that output is plummeting this quarter. We expect GDP to fall by another 9% this quarter,“ said Tom Learmouth, an economist at Capital Economics.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asia-Pacific Markets Close Higher; South Korean KOSPI up 49.45% from March’s 52-Week Low

The major Asia-Pacific markets closed higher on Friday while posting their biggest weekly rise in over eight years. Several key regional indexes have bounced back strongly following a historic period of volatility and uncertainty in March, as the world grappled with a rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic that left many economies on pause as lockdown measures were put in place.

Investors said a positive outlook for the global economy helped underpin the indexes, but the European Central Bank’s (ECB) surprise of more stimulus further encouraged investors to bet more aggressively on a global rebound. The ECB on Thursday announced an increase in its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by 600 billion Euros.

Gains in Asia were likely limited by light-profit-taking ahead of Friday’s nonfarm payrolls data, which is expected to show further deterioration in the U.S. jobs market. Ahead of the latest labor data, the Labor Department said 1.877 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, higher than a Dow Jones estimate of 1.775 million.

On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22863.73, up 167.99 or +0.74%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24586.11, up 232.03 or +0.95% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2181.87, up 30.69 or 1.43%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2927.98, up 8.73 or +0.30% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5998.70, up 6.90 or +0.12%.

Asia Pacific’s Major Markets Bounce Back Strongly Following Historic Period of Volatility and Uncertainty

Here’s a look at how other major stock indexes regionally have performed since touching their 52-week Low in March, as of their Thursday closing figures, compiled by CNBC with data from Refinitiv.

South Korea’s KOSPI:  +49.45%

Thailand’s SET Composite Index:  +45.6%

U.S. S&P 500 Index:  +42.0%

Japan’s Nikkei 225: +38.74%

Pan-European Stoxx 600 Index:  +36.37%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200:  +36.1%

Taiwan’s Taiex:  +33.67%

India’s Nifty 50:  +33.52%

Singapore’s Straits Time Index:  +22.59%

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index:  +15.27%

China’s Shanghai Composite:  +10.29%

From the looks of these numbers, it looks as if President Trump’s “country club buddies” aren’t the only ones “raking it in”. China is the big surprise, up only +10.29%, but then again their investors may have been distracted too much by the Wuhan virus to worry about creating wealth.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Australian Shares Boosted by Fourth Stimulus Package; Retail Sales Post Historic Plunge

The major Asia-Pacific stocks indexes are trading mixed on Thursday with some challenging two-month highs as government stimulus expectations supported investor confidence in an economic recovery from the global coronavirus pandemic.

MSCI’s broadcast index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4%, earlier touching its highest level since March 9.

Shares in Australia rose 0.66% after the country’s prime minister unveiled a fourth stimulus package to repair the economy.

Chinese shares were little changed due to lingering worries about diplomatic tension between the United States and China.

At 05:55 GMT, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is trading 22649.20, up 35.44 or +0.16%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is at 24301.13, down 24.49 or -0.10% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index is trading 2153.46, up 6.46 or +0.30%.

China’s Shanghai Index is trading 2918.07, down 5.30 or -0.18% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index settled at 5983.00, up 41.40 or +0.70%.

Australia Launches $470 Million Stimulus Package for Construction Sector

Australia will give eligible residents A$25,000 ($17,323) to build or significantly renovate their homes, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday, as Canberra moves to revive a construction sector badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dubbed HomeBuilder, the package worth A$680 million ($471 million) is Australia’s fourth economic stimulus package as it seeks to repair an economy that is now in its first recession in 29 years.

Morrison said the package would support jobs and allow people to build a family home, a long-held dream for many Australians.

Australian Retailers Suffer Record Sales Slump, Supports Grim Outlook for Second-Quarter GDP

Australian retail sales suffered a historic plunge in April while the trade surplus narrowed as the coronavirus battered the economy, leaving the nation facing its worst ever contraction in the current quarter.

Retail Sales slumped a seasonally adjusted 17.7% in April, their biggest on record, from an 8.5% jump in March, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Thursday.

China Stocks Slip on Sino-U.S. Tensions after Trump Administration Bars Flying to US

China stocks pared early gains Thursday due to concerns over rising Sino-U.S. tensions after the Trump administration barred Chinese passenger carriers to fly to the United States, Reuters reported.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday barred Chinese passenger carriers from flying to the U.S. starting on June 16, while the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) allowed more qualifying foreign carriers to fly into the mainland on Thursday.

The U.S. is also expected to designate at least four additional state-run Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, increasing restrictions on their operations on American soil, Reuters reported.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asia Pacific Shares Rise on Hopes of Successful Reopening of Global Economy

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished higher on Tuesday on the hopes of a successful reopening of the global economy as coronavirus containment measures are eased. However, gains may have been limited by simmering tensions between the U.S. and China. In other news, the Reserve Bank of Australia released interest rate and monetary policy statements.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22325.61, up 263.22 or +1.19%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 23995.84, up 263.42 or 1.11% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2087.19, up 22.11 or +1.07%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2921.40, up 5.97 or +0.20% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5835.10, up 15.90 or +0.27%.

World stock markets have rallied nearly 36% from March lows on hopes for a swift recovery from a pandemic that has killed nearly 375,000 people and crushed global growth as countries have shut down to try and slow the virus’s spread.

The week had begun with a surge in riskier currencies and global equities after President Trump’s response to China’s tightening grip on Hong Kong – with threats, not tariffs – was seen lowering the temperature of Sino-U.S. tension.

Worries Over Trade Deal Reduced by Encouraging PMI Data

A Bloomberg report on Monday said an order from China’s government to halt U.S. soybean purchases, though, again raised the spectre of damaging trade disagreements between Washington and Beijing. However, May Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data in Asia, Europe and the U.S. pointed to a fragile but encouraging rebound in global manufacturing – driving hopes that the worst is over.

Reserve Bank of Australia Raises Optimism

In a statement released Tuesday announcing the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision to maintain its current policy settings, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said:  “Over the past month, infection rates have declined in many countries and there has been some easing of restrictions on activity.”

“If this continues, a recovery in the global economy will get under way, supported by both the large fiscal packages and the significant easing in monetary policies,” Lowe said.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Chinese Shares Lifted by Upbeat May Factory Activity; Relief Rally Drives Hong Kong Up More than 3%

The major Asian stock indexes jumped to three-month highs on Monday as progress on re-opening economies helped offset jitters over riots in U.S. cities and uncertainty over the Trump administration’s power struggle with Beijing. Investors also reacted to a report from over the weekend that showed Chinese factory activity expanded in May.

On Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22062.39, up 184.50 or +0.84%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 23722.21, up 760.74 or +3.31% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2065.08, up 35.48 or +1.75%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2915.43, up 63.08 or +2.21% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 finished at 5819.20, up 63.50 or +1.10%.

Investors Watching US for Economic Setback

Although US stock index futures are trading higher, the opening was touch and go as many expected a sharply lower opening in response to violence and looting in several major cities over the weekend.

The turmoil that dominated the cable news networks over the weekend for the whole world to see has the potential to trigger a fresh setback in the economy which is only just emerging from a downturn akin to the Great Depression.

US Power Struggle with China Continues

Asian investors probably sighed a little relief on Monday after President Trump decided on Friday not to come down hard on China for its aggressive actions against Hong Kong. Trump said he would begin the process of ending special treatment for Hong Kong to punish China, however, he would leave the Phase One trade deal intact.

“With specific and verifiable measures against China appearing to be weak, markets may draw hollow consolidation that the U.S. is treading carefully,” said analysts at Mizuho in a note.

Chinese Factory Activity Expands in May

Data released over the weekend by China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed factory activity in the country expanding in May, with the official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) coming in at 50.6. That was a decline from the 50.8 print in April and below the 51.0 level expected by analysts, according to Reuters. Still, the figure for May was above the 50 level, which separates expansion from contraction in PMI readings.

In other news, a private survey also showed China’s manufacturing activity expanding in May. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI for May came in at 50.7, according to Reuters. That was higher than a 49.6 print expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Hong Kong Shares Surge on Relief Over Trump Comments

Hong Kong shares surged on Monday as investors expressed relief that U.S. President Donald Trump did not immediately end special privileges according to Hong Kong by Washington.

“The (U.S.) President on the matter of Hong Kong has stopped short of sanctions or even touching on any other fresh restrictions or potential trade barriers against fears, helping to ease some of the frayed nerves across US to Asia,” Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG, said in a note.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asian Shares Mixed as Investors Await US Response to China’s Planned National Security Laws for Hong Kong

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Wednesday as unrest in Hong Kong over Beijing proposed national security laws weighed on global shares and oil prices, offsetting optimism about the re-opening of the world economy, as coronavirus containment measures are eased.

Riot police fired pepper pellets on protesters in Hong Kong’s main business district, rekindling concern about the protests seen last year that hit the territory’s economy. The major indexes were capped amid fears the protests would worsen tensions between the United States and China.

On Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 21419.23, up 148.06 or +0.70%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 23301.36, down 83.30 or -0.36% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2031.20, up 1.42 or +0.07%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2836.80, down 9.74 or -0.34% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5775.00, down 5.00 or -0.09%.

US Considering Sanctions Against China

U.S.-China relations will continue to remain in focus as worsening relations between the two superpowers could further curtail global business activity, which is already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, U.S. President Trump said that he was preparing to take action against China this week over its effort to impose national security laws on Hong Kong.

Nikkei Pauses as Profit-Taking Hits Transport Stocks

Japan’s benchmark stock index, the Nikkei 225, paused on Wednesday after hitting a 2-1/2-month high in the last session, as investors locked in profits from recent strong gains in transport companies.

West Japan Railway dropped 3.3% and Central Japan Railway shed 2.6%, while ANA Holdings slipped 1.3% as investors moved to pocket profits from recent gains. All three had risen this week after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the coronavirus state of emergency in greater Tokyo and northern island of Hokkaido, ending the restrictions nationwide as businesses began to reopen.

China Stocks Fall on Rising Sino-US Tensions, Economic Worries

China stocks weakened on Wednesday as rising Sino-U.S. tensions and lingering worries over the coronavirus damage on the economy curbed risk appetite.

Traders reacted to the news that President Trump was preparing a strong response to China’s planned national security laws for Hong Kong by trimming long positions. Further selling was encouraged as investors monitored the pace of China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Profits at the country’s industrial firms fell at a slower pace in April, but the economy faces persistent pressure as activity and demand remain weak.

Australia Shares Dip on Hong Kong Unrest; Banks Outshine

Australian shares eased lower on Wednesday as rising tensions in Hong Kong over China’s proposed security law took the shine off surging bank stocks and tempered expectations of a global economic recovery.

Financial stocks were the standout performers on the Australian benchmark as they firmed 5.3% and hit their highest level since March 16, after brokerage UBS said the sector would benefit from a faster-than-expected economic recovery.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Asian Shares Higher as Investors Focus on the COVID-19 Economic Recovery, Rather than US-China Tensions

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes closed higher on Monday, however, the trade was largely subdued, after China’s move to impose a new security law on Hong Kong heightened concerns about the future stability of the city and global trade prospects. Volume was light with the U.S. stock market closed due to the Memorial Day holiday.

On Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20741.65, up 353.49 or 1.73%. Hong Kong Hang Seng Index closed at 22952.24, up 22.10 or +0.10% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 1994.60, up 24.47 or 1.24%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2817.97, up 4.20 or +0.15% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed at 5615.60, up 118.60 or +2.16%.

Hong Kong Residents Protest

Investors were rattled on Friday when Beijing unveiled details of the security legislation that critics see as a turning point for the former British colony.

The proposal drew the ire of Hong Kong residents who defied social distancing rules and protested on streets while the United States warned China’s move could lead to U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. Commerce Department responded by adding 33 Chinese companies and other institutions to a blacklist for human rights violations and to address U.S. national security concerns, Reuters reported.

China Threatens to Take Action if US Undermines Its Interests in Hong Kong

China warned on Monday that it will take countermeasures if the United States insists on undermining its interests regarding Hong Kong, following the latest comments from Washington about possible sanctions over new national security legislation for the city.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a briefing that the United States is trying to harm China’s national security and said Beijing has lodged stern representations with Washington over White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien’s comments that the security law for Hong Kong could lead to U.S. sanctions.

National Security Adviser O’Brien said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the U.S. government will likely impose economic sanctions on Hong Kong and China if Beijing moves ahead with a proposed national security law for Hong Kong that could constrain the special region’s autonomy.

Japan’s Nikkei Jumps on Fresh Stimulus Hopes

Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.7% after the Nikkei newspaper reported the country was considering a fresh stimulus package worth more than $929 billion that will consist mostly of financial aid programs for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

In other news, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will lift the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic in Tokyo and four other prefectures on Monday, Kyodo News reported. It added that Abe is expected to hold a press conference to explain his government’s plan, which would ease restrictions on economic activity.

Australian Shares Jump to 11-Week High as Travel Stocks Rebound from Coronavirus

Australian shares jumped to their highest value in almost three months as optimistic investors focused on the COVID-19 economic recovery, rather than US-China tensions.

Travel stocks skyrocketed after Treasury Josh Frydenberg raised the possibility that more stimulus could be on the way for the ailing sector.

“The tourism sector could be one sector in need of further support,” he told ABC News Breakfast. “That’s what we’ll look at in the context of the economic situation at the time. You’ll continue to see our international borders closed for some time.”

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Hong Kong Stocks Drop More than 5% as Beijing Pushes Security Law

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes all finished sharply lower on Friday as tensions between the United States and China escalated. Hong Kong’s benchmark, the Hang Seng Index led the selling among the region’s major markets.

The tensions between the U.S. and China centered on the former’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests in the Chinese-ruled city. Tensions between Beijing and Washington have risen in recent days, over issues such as the coronavirus pandemic as well as a bill that was passed which could force Chinese firms to delist on U.S. exchanges.

On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20388.16, down 164.15 or -0.80%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 22952.03, down 1328.00 or -5.47% and South Korea’s KOSPI closed at 1970.13, down 28.18 or -1.41%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2813.77, down 54.16 or -1.89% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 finished at 5497.00, -53.40 or -0.96%.

Hong Kong

China is getting ready to impose a new security law that has sparked concerns that Beijing is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, and there are worries it could trigger another wave of pro-democracy protests.

The draft law was announced at the annual National People’s Congress (NPC), the Chinese parliament, which kicked off on Friday. The laws would reportedly ban secession, foreign interference, terrorism and all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and any external interference in the former British colony, according to Reuters.

China

Chinese stocks dropped on Friday, wrapping up their worst week since March, as concerns over economic growth and renewed tensions with the United States following a new national security law in Hong Kong dented investor sentiment.

China refrained from setting a 2020 GDP growth target and pledged to step up spending and financing to support its economy, the first time that the Asian country did not set a gross domestic product (GDP) goal since 1990 when the government started to publish such targets, according to Reuters.

Khiem Do, head of Greater China Investments at Barings, said short-term traders were mostly concerned with the absence of a growth on Friday. “The market was hoping they would give some kind of number, 2% or 3%, but that wasn’t available.”

Japan

Japanese shares fell on Friday, as risk sentiment was hit after China’s plans to impose a new security legislation on Hong Kong fueled worries over Sino-U.S. tensions. The move drew a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the United States would react “very strongly” against it.

Highly cyclical mining, sea transport and iron and steel were the three worst-performing sector sub-indexes on the main bourse.

Investors largely shrugged off the Bank of Japan’s decision to launch a new lending facility that aims to channel more funds to small and mid-size businesses suffering from the pandemic, which came as no surprise, according to analysts.

Asia-Pacific Shares Weaken After WHO Reports Record Rise in COVID-19 Cases

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed, but mostly lower on Thursday with South Korea coming out the lone winner for the session. The trade was a little tentative as investors continued to digest the data from the reopening of global economies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Health Organization said the number of newly reported cases globally hit a daily record this week, amid authorities around the world attempting to ease lockdown measures put in place to curb the virus’ spread.

On Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20552.31, down 42.84 or -0.21. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24280.03, down 119.92 or -0.49% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 1998.31, up 8.67 or +0.44%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2867.92, down 15.81 or -0.55% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 5550.40, down 22.60 or -0.41%.

Absent from the trade on Thursday was the euphoria fueled on Monday after Moderna announced a positive development for a potential coronavirus vaccine. This is because on Wednesday, a STAT News report said vaccine experts were skeptical of Moderna’s new vaccine data. In response to the report, Moderna’s CEO said the company would never put out data that was different from “reality.”

Australian Stock Market

Australia made the deepest dividend cuts globally this year, with more than $6 billion deferred or cancelled as companies conserve cash to ride out the coronavirus, turning foreign investors wary of the country’s normally high-yielding firms, according to Reuters.

Payout changes have been announced over the past two months and strategists believe more are coming as companies sign off annual accounts on June 30.

Financials comprise more than a quarter of the benchmark stock price index and, under pressure to demonstrate stability to regulators, account for the steepest cuts.

Hong Kong Stock Market

Hong Kong stocks slipped on Thursday, dragged down by technology shares, after U.S. officials said regulators were open to making changes to close a possible loophole in a new rule aimed at curbing global chip sales to Chinese firm Huawei Technologies.

A U.S. State Department official said the rule, which currently includes chips designed by Huawei and doesn’t cover shipments if they are sent directly to the company’s customers – will be watched by regulators and “certainly make any changes that we think are necessary.”

Investors also awaited China’s parliamentary meeting, where Premier Li Keqiang is expected to make a state-of-the-nation style address and reiterate Beijing’s long-standing vow to keep the Yuan stable.

Japan Stock Market

Japan’s Nikkei share average snapped a four-day winning streak on Thursday, as investors were reluctant to chase markets after the benchmark hit a 2-1/2-month high, raising concerns that stocks were potentially overvalued.

Although the market has rallied on hopes of a quick economic recovery following countries’ move to ease coronavirus restrictions, investors have noted the market’s valuations are getting stretched, according to Reuters.

The Japanese government is expected to lift its state of emergency later in the day in three prefectures around Osaka, the country’s second-biggest urban area after Tokyo, and might take similar steps for Tokyo by the end of the month.

Asia-Pacific Stock Indexes Chase Wall Street’s Gains; Japan’s Nikkei Hits Two-Month High

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes extended gains on Tuesday, following the lead of Wall Street, as more countries emerged from their economic lockdowns and a successful early-stage trial of a coronavirus vaccine drove sentiment.

Data from Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first to be tested in the United States, showed it produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers. This news boosted sentiment as investors wagered on a faster-than-expected economic recovery.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20433.45, up 299.72 or +1.49%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24388.13, up 453.36, up 1.89% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 1980.61, up 43.50 or +2.25%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2898.54, up 23.16 or +0.81%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5559.50, up 99.00 or +1.81%.

Analysts Still See Headwinds and Risks

Despite the robust investor sentiment, analysts expect a steep contraction in world growth with the outlook for 2021 still uncertain with no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19 currently. Healthcare experts predict a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months.

“I hope…we find the vaccine in record time and everything is rosy again but the underlying reality is still very shaky,” Hugh Young, managing director for the Asia Pacific region at Aberdeen Standard Investments, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday.

Commenting on the market rally following that positive development from Moderna, Young said: “It might well have legs short-term but I think the reality that we’re going to see over coming weeks is the effect on corporate earnings and corporate health. The second quarter this year is going to be pretty terrible for economies worldwide…and for most corporates.”

Analysts at Perpetual wrote in a note, “It may be the case that central bank liquidity is chloroforming markets to overlook risks such as overleveraged corporate and government balance sheets, growing COVID-19 case numbers, growth holes and a slow recovery path.”

Japanese Stocks Hit 2-1/2 Month High

Japanese stocks advanced in line with their Wall Street and Asian peers and hit a two-and-a-half month high on Tuesday on hopes for a swift reopening of the global economy. Highly cyclical iron and steel, sea transport and insurance were the top three performing sectors on the main bourse.

China’s Xi Pledges $2 Billion to Help Fight Coronavirus

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday his country will provide $2 billion over two years to help other countries respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“China will provide 2 billion U.S. dollars over two years to help with COVID-19 response, and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries,” Xi said, according to an official English translation.

Asian Shares Firm on Hopes of Global Recovery; Japanese Economy Contracted

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes closed up on Monday but little changed as oil prices hit a five-week high as more countries re-opened their economies, stirring hopes the world was nearer to emerging from recession. The major markets were also supported by comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said the economy stateside may need a coronavirus vaccine to fully recover and a jump in U.S. stock index futures.

On Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20133.73, up 96.26 or +0.48%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 23918.15, up 120.68 or +0.51% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 1937.11, up 9.83 or +0.51%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2875.42, up 6.96 or +0.24% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5460.50, up 55.70 or +1.03%.

Growing Optimism as More Countries Lift Restrictions but Risks Remain

Summer weather is enticing much of the world to emerge from coronavirus lockdowns as centers of the outbreak from New York to Italy and Spain gradually lift restrictions that have kept millions cooped up for months. However, there remain risks from opening up too early.

“The economies of Europe and the U.S. likely bottomed out in April and are slowly starting to come back to life,” wrote Barclays economist Christian Keller in a note.

“However, incoming data from most economies highlight the depth of the contraction, raising risks of longer-term scarring that might undermine the recovery.”

Oil Prices Rise Ahead of June WTI Contract Expiry

Crude oil prices climbed by more than $1 a barrel on Monday, supported by output cuts and signs of a gradual recovery in demand amid easing coronavirus curbs, with U.S. oil showing no signs of last month’s contract expiry price rout that drove prices below $0.00 for the first time in history. Asian traders saw this as a good sign for the global economy because it indicates demand may be picking up.

Powell Sees Need for More Government Aid

Late Sunday (local time), Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell took a cautious line in an interview saying a U.S. recovery may stretch deep into next year and a full comeback might depend on a coronavirus vaccine.

Powell also outlined the likely need for three to six more months of government financial help for firms and families. Talk of additional government stimulus also helped boost gold prices over 1% to their highest level since 2012.

Japanese Investors Show Little Reaction as Economy Enters Recession

Japan’s economy slipped into recession for the first time in 4-1/2 years in the last quarter, putting the nation on course for its deepest postwar slump as the coronavirus crisis ravages businesses and consumers.

Analysts polled by Reuters estimate Japan’s economy will shrink an annualized 22.0% in the current quarter, which would be a record decline, with pressure on output intensifying after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April declared a nationwide state of emergency amid the widening pandemic.

Asian Shares Weaker on COVID-19 Flare-Up Fears, Tense U.S.-China Relations

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished the week lower with the exception being the Australian market which posted a marginal gain. Stocks were primarily weighed down as deteriorating U.S.-China relations added to uncertainties over how fast economies can recover as they start to emerge from lockdowns.

Worries about confrontations between the two largest economies in the world eclipsed Chinese economic data, which showed its economy is gradually recovering from the shock of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters.

Investors also said that optimism from the reopening of economies has also been marred by fears of a second wave of infections, encouraging profit taking. Additionally, Fed Chairman Powell’s warning of a possible deeper and longer recession without additional fiscal stimulus dampened risk appetite.

Last week, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20037.47, down 141.62 or -0.70%. South Korea’s KOSPI finished at 1927.28, down 18.54 or -0.95% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed at 23797.47, down 432.70 or -1.79%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2868.46, down 26.88 or -0.93% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5404.80, up 13.70 or +0.25%.

Analysts Worried about Rising U.S.-China Tensions

While many analysts regarded last week’s weakness as a natural correction after a spectacular rally since mid-March, they have become increasingly worried about rising U.S.-China tensions. U.S. President Donald Trump blames China for its handling of the COVID-19 disease that has killed more than 85,000 American, according to Reuters.

Trump signaled a further deterioration of his relationship with China by saying he has no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now.

The President went on to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second-largest economy, a day after the U.S. federal pension fund delayed investment in Chinese shares in the wake of pressure from the White House.

The move fanned fears the confrontation between Washington and Beijing could escalate beyond trade to finance and other areas.

On Friday, the Trump administration moved to block global chip supplies to blacklisted telecoms equipment company Huawei Technologies, spurring fears of Chinese retaliation and hammering shares of U.S. producers of chipmaking equipment.

Chinese Economic Data Mixed

China’s inflation for April released by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics missed expectations. The consumer price index for April rose 3.3% year-on-year, versus expectations of a 3.7% increase in a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, China’s producer price index for April declined 3.1% year-on-year, as compared to a 2.6% fall expected in a Reuters poll.

China’s industrial output in April rose 3.9% from a year earlier, exceeding expectations for a 1.5% rise and expanding for the first time this year as its economy slowly emerges from its coronavirus lockdown. But retail sales remained weak as unemployment rose.

Toyota Operating Income Declines

In corporate earnings, Japanese automaker Toyota posted a 1% year-on-year decrease in its operating income for the 2020 fiscal year. In particular, the firm also forecast a 79.5% year-on-year plunge in its operating income for the 2021 fiscal year.

Foreign Investors Sold Japanese Stocks Every Week in Past 3 Months

Foreign investors sold a net 133.9 billion yen ($1.25 billion) of Tokyo shares last week, data from Japan Exchange Group showed on Thursday, marking the 13th consecutive week of selling, the longest on record, Reuters reported.

Asia-Pacific Shares Finish Week Lower on Escalating US-China Tensions

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes closed mixed on Friday as investors showed limited reaction to data that showed China’s industrial output bounced back more than expected in April.

China’s industrial output rose 3.9% year-on-year in April, according to data released Friday by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. That marked the first expansion in the metric for this year from China. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected industrial output for April to rise 1.5%. Retail sales, however, fell 7.5% in April. That was a larger fall than the 7% decline forecast, according to Reuters.

On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20037.47, up 122.69 or +0.62%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 23797.47, down 32.27 or -0.14% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 1927.38, up 2.32 or +0.12%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2868.46, down 1.88 or -0.07% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5404.80, up 76.10 or +1.43%.

In other news from China, Fixed Asset Investment fell 10.3%, worse than the -9.8% forecast. Retail Sales fell 7.5%. Economists predicted a 5.9% loss. The Unemployment Rate came in at 6.0%. The estimate was 5.8%.

US-China tensions Rattle Sentiment

Asian shares may have finished mixed on Friday, but closed the week lower as deteriorating U.S.-China relations added to uncertainties over how fast economies can recover as they start to emerge from lockdown.

Worries about confrontations between the two largest economies in the world eclipsed Chinese economic data, which showed its economy is gradually recovering from the shock of the coronavirus outbreak.

With China the first to relax lockdowns, global investors are closely watching it for clues on how long demand will take to bounce back, as other countries begin to ease their own anti-virus measures.

Investors are becoming increasingly worried about rising U.S.-China tensions. U.S. President Donald Trump blames China for its handling of the COVID-19 disease that has killed more than 85,000 Americans.

Trump signaled a further deterioration of his relationship with China by saying he has no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now.

He went so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second-largest economy, a day after the U.S. federal pension fund delayed investment in Chinese shares in the wake of pressure from the White House.

The move fanned fears the confrontation between Washington and Beijing could escalate beyond trade to finance and other areas.

“The U.S.-China trade war was the biggest theme for markets last year. It will be a big concern if the conflict escalates beyond trade,” said Takeo Kamai, head of execution at CLSA.

Asian Stocks Finish Mixed as Investors Continue to Monitor COVID-19 Developments

The major Asia-Pacific stocks indexes finished mixed but mostly higher on Wednesday as caution remained over a recent resurgence in coronavirus cases in certain countries regionally as they start to reopen their economies.

Public health experts – including those at the World Health Organization (WHO) – have warned countries against lifting containment measures too early, which could cause a rebound in new coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20267.05, down 99.43 or -0.49%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 24180.30, down 65.38 or -0.27% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 1940.42, up 18.25 or +0.95%

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2898.05, up 6.49 or +0.22%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5421.90, up 18.90 or +0.35%.

Japanese Stocks Follow Wall Street Lower

Japanese shares dipped further from a two-month high on Wednesday, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street on fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, while some profit-taking also weighed on the market.

Wall Street’s three major stock indexes dropped about 2% each on Tuesday following a warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, that premature moves to reopen the economy could lead to a second wave of cases and set back economic recovery.

Traders also said some profit-taking was inevitable sooner or later because of the recent rally. On Monday, both the Nikkei and the Topix climbed to their highest levels since March 6.

Investors also kept a watch on simmering U.S.-China tensions after a leading U.S. Republican senator proposed legislation that would authorize President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China if it fails to give a full account of events leading to the virus outbreak.

China Stocks End Higher as Healthcare Firms Gain

Chinese shares closed higher on Wednesday, reversing course from small losses as a rally in healthcare stocks boosted the index, although gains were capped due to persisting concerns around a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Investors remain concerned about the risk of the renewed spread of the new coronavirus after the northeast Chinese city of Jilin said it would impose fresh restrictions on travel to contain the outbreak, with six new cases reported on Tuesday.

That came after Chinese health authorities on Tuesday called for vigilance to be maintained against the novel coronavirus as new clusters emerge, even though the peak of the epidemic has passed in the country where it first appeared.

Australian Shares Nudge Higher on Hopes of Quick Recovery

Australian shares reversed course to close higher on Wednesday, as heavyweight Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s shares rose after news of the sale of its wealth management business and coronavirus provisions being broadly in line with peers.

Market sentiment also recouped on hopes on a gradual reopening of the local economy and effective management of new virus clusters in the short-term. Data showed on Wednesday a measure of consumer sentiment jumped a record 16.4 percent in May from April, raising hopes of a relatively quick revival in spending.