The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were mixed but mostly higher on Thursday with Hong Kong giving back a portion of this week’s stellar gains. Shares in the region rose after stocks on Wall Street soared to record highs as U.S. President Joe Biden was sworn into office.
Investors are hopeful the incoming Biden administration will be able to secure passage of a massive new stimulus package to cushion the economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Republicans in the U.S. Congress have indicated they are willing to work with President Joe Biden on his administration’s top priority, a $1.9 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus plan, but some are opposed to the price tag. Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, though they will still need Republican support to pass the program.
But after record high closes on Wall Street Wednesday, markets in Asia reflected relief over an orderly transition of power and strong expectations that U.S. stimulus will provide continued support for global assets.
Cash Market Performances
In the cash market on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28756.86, up 233.60 or +0.82%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 29927.76, down 34.71 or -0.12% and South Korean’s KOSPI Index closed at 3160.84, up 46.29 or +1.49%.
China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3621.26, up 38.17 or +1.07% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6823.70, up 53.30 or +0.79%.
Hong Kong Stocks Snap 5-Day Winning Streak on Profit-Taking
Hong Kong stocks ended lower on Thursday, snapping a five-day winning streak, as investors locked in profits following sharp gains helped by strong demand from mainland investors.
Bank of Japan Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged Amid Gloomy Outlook
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) left its main policy unchanged after forecasting the economy will regain more lost growth than previously thought once it starts to recover from the current state of emergency.
The BOJ held its interest rate and asset buying setting intact, according to a statement from the central bank on Thursday. All 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted no change in the bank’s main policy levers ahead of a policy review in March.
Market participants showed scant reaction to the largely in-line outcome of the meeting, with stocks and the Japanese Yen little changed from levels before the decision.
Australia’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.6 Percent as 30,000 More People Find Work
Australia’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6 percent as 30,000 more Australians found work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that for December 2020, the number of employed people in the country was a figure 784,000 higher than it was in May.
Despite the dramatic recovery, the total number of employed people was still down year-on-year because of mass COVID-19 layoffs.