Asia-Pacific Shares Track Wall Street Higher on Hopes of Massive New US Stimulus

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.

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

Asia-Pacific Stocks Finish Mostly Higher as Alibaba Shares Soar in Hong Kong

Most of the focus was on Hong Kong where listed shares of Chinese tech juggernaut Alibaba surged following the reappearance of founder Jack Ma.

Asian shares were supported early as U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen advocated for a hefty fiscal relief package to help the world’s largest economy ride out a pandemic-driven slump. At her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, she said the benefits of a big stimulus package to help the world’s largest economy ride out a pandemic-driven slump.

Cash Market Performance

In the cash market on Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28523.26, down 110.20 or -0.38%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 29962.47, up 320.19 or +1.08% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3114.55, up 21.89 or +0.71%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3583.09, up 16.71 or +0.47% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6770.40, up 27.80 or +0.41%.

Hong Kong Shares End at Over 20-Month High on Tech Boost

Hong Kong shares ended at their highest level in more than 20 months on Wednesday, extending gains for the fifth straight session boosted by gains in tech stocks. The IT sector sub-index led the gains by rising 5.47%, with the heavyweight Alibaba Group recorded the best intraday gain in more than six months.

Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma made his first public appearance since October, as he spoke to a group of teachers by video, easing concerns about his unusual absence from public life and boosting shares in the e-commerce giant.

South Korea’s Kia Says Looking at Electric Car Projects with Multiple Firms after Apple Report

In corporate developments, shares of South Korean automaker Kia Motors surged 5.04% after the firm said it is looking at electric car projects with multiple firms, Reuters reported citing a regulatory filing.

That development came after a local online publication reported that Kia’s parent Hyundai Motor Group had decided Kia would be in charge of the proposed cooperation with Cupertino-based tech giant Apple on electric cars, according to Reuters.

Australian Shares at Near 11-Month High as Yellen Backs More US Stimulus

Australian shares ended firmer on Wednesday, taking cues from overnight gains in Wall Street, on expectations that a $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus package would come through, while optimism over domestic corporate earnings also lent support.

Auto parts seller RPM Automotive Group, not an index constituent, advanced as much as 35.9% after raising its 2021 revenue forecast by 44%, while Ansell also rose after the glove maker forecast exceeding its earlier sales outlook.

Morgan Stanley recently said the upgrade cycle for ASX200 stocks in calendar year 2021 was underway and saw some signs of an earnings revival to come through in the upcoming February earnings season, estimating high-single-digit earnings growth in fiscal 2021.

Asia-Pacific Shares Finish Mostly Higher Amid More Than 2.6% Gains in Hong Kong, South Korea

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were mixed but mostly higher on Tuesday, led by more than two-percent gains in Hong Kong and South Korea. China struggled, however, as a rise in coronavirus cases offset the bullish gross domestic product data released on Monday. Analysts said the markets may have been underpinned by optimism ahead of remarks from U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, later today.

In the cash market on Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28633.46, up 391.25 or +1.39%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 29642.28, up 779.51 or +2.70% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3092.66, up 78.73 or +2.61%.

In China, the benchmark Shanghai Index settled at 3566.38, down 29.84 or -0.83% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6742.60, up 79.60 or +1.19%.

Yellen Says US Must ‘Act Big’ on Next Coronavirus Relief Package

Janet Yellen, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Treasury Department, will tell the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the government must “act big” with its next coronavirus relief package.

“Neither the president-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big,” Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said in a prepared opening statement for her hearing before the committee.

“I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time,” she said in the statement, which was obtained by Reuters.

Hong Kong Stocks End at 20-Month High on Mainland China Demand

Hong Kong stocks closed at a 20-month high on Tuesday, helped by steady and robust demand from investors in mainland China for shares in the Asian financial hub. Leading the gains, the Hang Seng Tech Index and the Hang Seng Financials Index both closed 2.8% higher.

Mainland China investors purchased 26.1 billion Yuan ($4.02 billion) worth of Hong Kong stocks on Tuesday via the Stock Connect linking mainland and Hong Kong, after spending a record HK$23 billion on Monday, according to HKEX and Refinitiv data.

China Stocks Retreat on Coronavirus Worries

China shares fell on Tuesday as a resurgence of COVID-19 cases hit market sentiment, with consumer discretionary and materials stocks leading the retreat.

Leading the decline, the CSI300 Consumer Discretionary Index dropped 2.9%, while the CSI300 materials Index slid 2.7%.

China is battling the worst outbreak of COVID-19 since March 2020, with one province posting a record daily rise in cases, as an independent panel reviewing the global pandemic said China could have acted more forcefully to curb the initial outbreak.

China will provide necessary policy support for the economic recovery this year, to avoid a “policy cliff”, as small firms remain hard-pressed amid the pandemic, a senior official at the state planner said.

South Korean Stocks See Best Day in Over a Week on Samsung Electric, Hyundai Motor Boost

South Korean shares rebounded to end higher on Tuesday, marking its sharpest gain since January 8, boosted by shares of Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor, and upbeat Chinese data from Monday.

An 11.2% gain in auto stocks was the biggest boost, with the country’s largest carmaker Hyundai Motor surging as much as 8.5%. Chip giant Samsung Electronics also jumped as much as 3.5%, recovering from its sharpest decline in five months on Monday after its group leader was sentenced to a 30-month jail term.

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

Asia-Pacific Shares Mixed; Shanghai Index Jumps as GDP Beats Expectations; Samsung Plunge Pressures KOSPI

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Monday with Hong Kong and China reversing earlier losses to close higher following the release of better-than-expected gross domestic product data from China. Samsung Group dominated the headlines in the region, however, after Reuters reported that Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee has received a 2-1/2 year jail term.

In the cash market on Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28242.21, down 276.97 or -0.97%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 28862.77, up 288.91 or +1.01% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3013.93, down 71.97 or -2.33%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3596.22, up 29.85 or -0.84% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed at 6663.00, down 52.40 or 0.78%.

Mainland Stocks Higher as China Reports GDP Growth in 2020

Mainland Chinese stocks moved higher after an early setback after China reported its GDP rose 2.3% last year as the world fought to contain the coronavirus pandemic. That compared against economists’ expectations for GDP expansion by just over 2%.

In other economic news out of China, property investment rose 7% year-on-year, industrial output rose 7.3% year-on-year while retail sales missed the forecast, contracting 3.9% for the year.

Reuters also reported that the Trump administration notified several suppliers to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei – including chipmaker Intel – that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese firm. That news comes just days ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

South Korea’s KOSPI Index Struggles as Samsung Group Plunges

Shares of firms related to South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group plunged in Monday’s trade after Reuters reported that Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee received a 2-1/2-year jail term.

Industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics plunged more than 4% before clawing back some of those losses, finishing their trading day 3.41% lower. Samsung C&T dived 6.84% while Samsung Heavy Industries declined 2.74%. The Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds, according to Reuters.

Australia Shares End Lower as Fresh COVID-19 Cluster Emerges in Sydney

Australian shares ended lower on Monday, as the emergence of a fresh COVID-19 cluster in the state of New South Wales and news that the country may not fully reopen its international borders this year despite the vaccination drive dented sentiment.

As authorities investigated the source of the latest outbreak in the Sydney suburb, the head of Australia’s health department warned that the country may not fully reopen its international borders this year even if most of the population is vaccinated against coronavirus.

Dour sentiment drove mining stocks lower despite a rise in copper and iron ore prices, with heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto shedding around 3% and 1.5%, respectively.

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

China’s Economy Grew 2.3% in 2020, Retail Sales Fall; Japan’s Tankan Sentiment Index Stabilizes

Economic data out of Asia on Monday suggests the region may be stabilizing, creating a less pessimistic outlook for early 2021, but with coronavirus infections still rising in the area, there is evidence that consumers are still feeling a little cautious about spending.

Japan Manufacturers’ Sentiment stabilizes in January, Services Weaken:  Reuters Tankan

Sentiment among Japanese manufacturers stabilized in January to the least pessimistic in more than a year from the impact of COVID-19, but service firms grew gloomier just as new lockdowns hit most of the population, the Reuters Tankan poll found.

The Reuters Tankan sentiment index for manufacturers rose to minus 1 from minus 9 in the previous month, while the service-sector index fell to minus 11 from minus 4 in December, according to the December 24 – January 13 survey.

China’s Economy Picks Up Speed in Fourth Quarter, Ends 2020 in Solid Shape after COVID-19 Shock

China’s economy picked up speed in the fourth quarter, with growth beating expectations as it ended a rough coronavirus-stricken 2020 in remarkably good shape and remained poised to expand further this year even as the global pandemic raged unabated.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 2.3% in 2020, official data showed on Monday, making China the only major economy in the world to avoid a contraction last year as many nations struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

GDP expanded 6.5% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, data on the National Bureau of Statistics showed, quicker than the 6.1% forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, and followed the third quarter’s solid 4.9% growth.

China’s 2020 Property Investment Rises 7% Year-on-Year

China’s property investment rose more slowly in 2020 from a year earlier although the rate of growth remained robust, official data showed on Monday.

Real estate investment in China rose 7.0% in 2020 from a year earlier, accelerating from a 6.8% gain in the first 11 months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement. But the growth rate was down from 9.9% in 2019.

China Industrial Output Rises 7.3% Year-on-Year in December; Retail Sales Miss Forecast

China’s industrial output rose at a faster-than-expected rate of 7.3% in December from a year ago, data showed on Monday, expanding for the ninth straight month as the vast manufacturing sector, aided by strong exports, continues its post-COVID recovery.

China’s Retail Sales edged up 4.6% last month from a year earlier, missing analysts’ forecast for 5.5% growth, in contrast to 5.0% growth in November.

Fixed Asset Investment increased 2.9% in 2020 on year, compared with a forecast 3.2% increase and a 2.5% growth in the first 11 months of the year.

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

Asia-Pacific Shares: Mixed Reaction to China GDP Beat Amid New Concerns Over Persistent COVID Infections

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes are under pressure early Monday as investors in the region await Chinese economic data, including the country’s GDP print for the fourth quarter. But questions should be raised about the potential impact of these numbers on the stock market since they represent stale data and a time when China appeared to be free and clear of fresh cases of the coronavirus. Remember, the stock market is forward looking so there is no guarantee that strong numbers will be supportive.

At 01:48 GMT, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is trading 28260.74, down 258.44 or -0.91%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is at 28491.73, down 82.13 or -0.29% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index is at 3050.68, down 35.22 or -1.14%.

In China, the Shanghai Index is at 3557.83, down 8.55 or -0.24% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index is at 6663.70, down 51.70 or -0.77%.

China’s Economic Recovery to Quicken in Fourth Quarter, Herald Stronger 2021

China’s economic recovery likely accelerated in the fourth quarter, driven by stronger demand at home and abroad and policy stimulus which is expected to provide a solid boost into 2021, according to Reuters. This is expected to be the rally cry for bullish traders.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast GDP grew 6.1% in October-December from a year earlier, accelerating from the third quarter’s 4.9% pace. That would bring its full-year expansion to 2.1%, likely making China the only major economy to see growth last year but still the country’s weakest pace in more than four decades.

Rebound in COVID-19 Cases in China Could Dampen Bullish GDP Data

A recent rebound in COVID-19 cases in China could impact activity and consumption in the run-up to next month’s long Lunar New Year holidays.

China reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months, official data showed on Friday, due to a severe outbreak in the northeast that has put more than 28 million people under lockdown.

China Reports 109 New COVID-19 Cases as Infections Persist in Northeast

In breaking news, China reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day, with rising infections in the northeast fueling concerns of another national wave ahead of a major holiday season.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Monday that a total of 109 new COVID-19 cases were reported on January 17, unchanged from a day earlier. Of the 93 local infections, 54 were reported in Bebei province that surround Beijing. Northeastern Jilin province reported a record 30 new cases, underscoring the risk of new clusters emerging.

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

Asia-Pacific Stock Market Recap: Japan’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Outperform Amid Robust Buying Spree

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed for the week with the biggest gains coming out of Japan and Hong Kong. South Korea suffered the biggest loss after a strong start to the new year. China and Australian shares finished marginally lower.

In the cash market last week, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28519.18, up 380.15 or +1.35%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 3085.90, down 66.28 or -2.10% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 28573.86, up 695.64 or +2.50%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3566.38, down 3.73 or -0.10% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 finished at 6715.40, down 42.50 or -0.63%.

Japan’s Nikkei Hits Fresh 3-Decade High

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average reached a fresh three-decade high last week with drug makers leading the charge following a report of another effective COVID-19 treatment.

The rally was primarily supported by Chugai Pharmaceutical, which jumped 5.91% on the drug-effectiveness news, helping boost the drug maker index by 1.68%. Other companies such as Takeda Pharmaceutical, Eisai, and Shionogi & Co gained between 1.95% and 3.38%.

The COVID-19 treatment news comes at a time when Japan plans to expand its declaration of state of emergency to three western prefectures including Osaka to stem the spread of COVID-19, according to local media.

Later in the week, the Nikkei extended its rally into a fifth session as technology shares tracked a surge in U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp and better-than-expected core machinery orders data lifted sentiment.

Chip-related shares led the gains, tracking a 7% jump in Intel shares after the company said it would replace its chief executive officer and that it expected to beat its financial forecast for the fourth quarter.

Hong Kong Shares End at Near One-Year High on Robust Mainland Inflows

Hong Kong stocks hit a near one-year closing high, while posting their third straight weekly gain. The move was fueled by robust mainland inflows via the Stock Connect.

According to Refinitiv data, mainland investors continued to pile in, purchasing a net 14 billion Yuan ($2.16 billion) worth of Hong Kong stocks via the Stock Connect linking mainland and the Asian financial hub, shrugging off the latest Sino-U.S. tensions.

Additionally, Asian and European investors snatched up discounted Chinese stocks hit by a U.S. investment ban, finding bargains as giant American funds bail out and shrugging off concerns that the sanctions could hurt the companies’ prospects.

Hong Kong shares were boosted after the Trump Administration decided to scrap a planned investment ban involving Alibaba and Tencent, while reports of a possible big U.S. stimulus package also drove up sentiment.

Hong Kong shares of Alibaba and Tencent soared 5% and 5.62%, respectively, after the Trump administration shelved plans to blacklist the Chinese tech giants, together with Baidu. This pushed the IT sector sub-index 4.46% higher.

Shares of Chinese companies backlisted by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump have been snapped up by bargain hunters in recent weeks. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, also blacklisted by the U.S. rose 7.44%, making it the top gainer among H-shares.

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

Asia-Pacific Shares Mixed in Volatile Session as Biden’s Stimulus Plan Fails to Impress Investors

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed in a volatile session on Friday.

Early in the trading session, Asian shares edged higher after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to jump-start the world’s largest economy and accelerate its response to COVID-19. But that initial boost faded by the afternoon as risk appetite waned, lifting bond prices and the dollar, and hitting regional equities.

In the cash market, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28519.18, down 179.08 or -0.62%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 28573.86, up 77.00 or +0.27% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3085.90, down 64.03 or -2.03%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3566.38, up 0.47 or +0.01% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6715.40, up 0.10 or up 0.00%.

Biden Unveils COVID-19 Relief Plan

In prime-time remarks, Biden outlined a proposal that includes $415 billion aimed at the COVID-19 response, some $1 trillion in direct relief to households, and roughly $440 billion for small businesses and communities hard hit by the pandemic.

Biden’s proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, includes some familiar stimulus measures in the hope of sustaining families and companies till vaccines are widely distributed. Some of the proposed measures include stimulus checks as well as unemployment support.

Shares of Xiaomi in Hong Kong Plunge

Shares of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi plunged on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration placed the firm on a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies. Hong Kong-listed shares of the Chinese firm were down 10.6% at the open on that news.

The move means that Xiaomi is now subject to a November executive order restricting American investors from buying shares or related securities of any companies designated by the Department of Defense to be a Chinese military company.

Hong Kong-listed shares of CNOOC, fell 1.1% – after the U.S. Commerce Department announcing Thursday it had added the firm to its entity list, which essentially restricts firms from receiving specific goods made in the U.S.

South Korea Stocks Snap 10th Straight Weekly Gain, Suffer Biggest Drop in Over 2 Months

South Korean shares on Friday logged the fastest decline in more than two months, towed by major heavyweights, as profit-taking and foreign selloff eclipsed optimism over a U.S. stimulus plan.

A majority of heavyweight stocks tumbled:  Chip giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix fell 1.9% and 2.3%, respectively, while LG Chem and Hyundai Motor dropped 3.1% and 4.2%, respectively.

South Korea’s central bank kept its policy rate unchanged on Friday as the policy focus shifted away from an urgent need to support the economic recovery to growing risks from a hot stock market rally and booming household debt.

Nikkei Eases from Over 30-year High; Tech Gains Cap Declines

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock average snapped a five-session rally on Friday, slipping from a more than 30-year high hit in the previous session, while losses were capped by tech shares after Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC posted its best-ever quarterly profit.

TSMC also raised revenue and capital spending estimates, pushing the Philadelphia semiconductor index to a record high. That gave an additional boost to Japanese chip shares which were already in solid demand.

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

Asia-Pacific Shares Mostly Higher on Upbeat China Trade Data

The major Asia-Pacific shares finished mixed but mostly higher on Thursday as investors regionally reacted positively to strong Chinese trade data, while ignoring news of the first COVID-19 death in China in nine months. Investors also shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump’s record impeachment and instead focused on reports that his replacement, Joe Biden, will lay out a new U.S. $2 trillion stimulus program later.

In the cash market on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28698.26, up 241.67 or +0.85%. Hong Kong Hang Seng Index finished at 28496.86, up 261.26 or +0.93% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3149.93, up 1.64 or +0.05%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 3565.90, down 32.75 or -0.91% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 finished at 6715.30, up 28.70 or +0.43%.

China Releases Optimistic Trade Data

China’s exports rose 18.1% in December as compared with a year earlier, according to customs data released Thursday. That was higher than expectations for a 15% increase by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, China’s imports grew b6.5% year-on-year in December, as compared with expectations for a 5% rise in a Reuters poll.

China Reports First COVID Death in More than Six Months

Mainland China on Thursday reported the first new COVID-19 death since May as authorities try to control a spike in cases just outside of Beijing. A woman in Hebei province died Wednesday afternoon, state media reported, noting her illness was a severe case and she had pre-existing health conditions.

The National Health Commission recorded Wednesday’s death in its daily report on the local coronavirus situation, the first addition to the overall toll since May 2000.

More positive vaccine data was released on Wednesday with the New England Journal of Medicine reporting that trial data showed Johnson & Johnson’s one –shot COVID is safe and appears to generate an immune response in both young and elderly volunteers.

Hong Kong Listed Alibaba and Tencent Shares Jump

The Hong Kong listed shares of Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent and Baidu all rose sharply after sources told Reuters and the Wall Street Journal that plans to extend a U.S. investment ban to the stocks had been scrapped.

Alibaba and Tencent alone are worth over $1.3 trillion and are two of three biggest emerging market stocks in the world, making up more than 10% of the widely-followed MSCI emerging market equity index.

“I think the market is relieved,” said Chinese equity portfolio manager at William Blair Investment Management Vivian Lin Thurston.

“However, concerns over this risk and therefore volatility of these stocks may continue in the near future until perhaps the new (Biden) administration’s China strategy becomes clear.”

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

Asia-Pacific Indexes Finish Mixed as Coronavirus Concerns Cap Risk Sentiment

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Wednesday as investors continued to monitor developments on the coronavirus front as the region tries to prevent an out of control spread. Meanwhile, political turmoil in the Washington had little bearing on the price action. Investors also kept an eye on the activity in the U.S. Treasury markets after the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note briefly traded at 1.187%, its highest level since March.

In the cash market on Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 28456.59, up 292.25 or +1.04%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 28235.60, down 41.15 or -0.15% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3148.29, up 22.34 or +0.71%.

In China, the benchmark Shanghai Index settled at 3148.29, up 22.34 or +0.71% and the Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6686.60, up 7.50 or +0.11%.

Renewed Coronavirus Concerns

The Japanese government is set to expand the state of emergency to more areas on Wednesday, according to local media reports.

Kyodo News reported that Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to extend the current state of emergency to another seven prefectures including Osaka and Aichi on Wednesday, as the country’s cumulative total of coronavirus cases exceeded 300,000.

The government informed an advisory board of the planned expansion, which is expected to be approved by a government task force later in the day.

In China, local authorities in regions near Beijing are stepping up restrictions on social activity as new coronavirus cases grow.

Washington Developments

Investors watched for developments from Washington, as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday night he will not remove President Trump from office. That came before the Democratic-held House approved a resolution urging Pence and the Cabinet to push Trump out of the White House after he allegedly incited last week’s riot on the Capitol.

Hong Kong Shares End Lower as Investors Pause After Recent Rallies

Hong Kong shares ended lower on Wednesday, with consumer shares leading the declines, as investors paused after a rally fueled by the south-bound bargain hunting from mainland investors.

In recent sessions, as U.S. investors dump shares in Chinese companies blacklisted by outgoing President Donald Trump, bargain hunters in China are taking the opposite side of that trade, wagering that a Joe Biden presidency will reverse the investment ban.

Bumper Jobs Data, US Stimulus Bets Push Australia Shares Higher

Australian shares settled higher on Wednesday as upbeat data pointed towards improving employment figures on the horizon, with energy stocks leading the charge on an upswing in oil prices.

Australian job vacancies in the country surged 23.4% to hit an all-time high in the November quarter, data showed, signaling the likelihood for stronger employment growth in the offing.

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

Asia-Pacific Stocks Mostly Lower as Promise of New US Fiscal Stimulus Stokes Global Reflation Trade

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were mostly lower on Monday as profit-takers came in after last week’s strong performance. Driving the price action was a surge in Treasury yields to a 10-month high. Investors were also increasing bets on “trillions” in new U.S. fiscal stimulus plans that were set to be unveiled this week as part of President-elect Joe Biden’s economic recovery program. Rising rates are also stoking the global reflation trade.

In the cash market on Monday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index settled at 27908.22, up 30.00 or +0.11 and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 3148.45, down 3.73 or -0.12%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3531.50, down 38.61 or -1.08% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed at 6697.20, down 60.70 or -0.90%.

The markets in Japan were closed on Monday for a bank holiday.

Price Action Driven by Rising US Yields

Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields were at their highest since March after Friday’s weak jobs report only fanned speculation of more U.S. fiscal stimulus now that the Democrats have control of the government.

President-elect Joe Biden is due to announce plans for “trillions” in new relief bills this week, much of which will be paid for by increased borrowing.

At the same time, the Federal Reserve is sounding content to put the onus on fiscal policy with Vice Chair Richard Clarida saying there would be no change soon to the $120 billion of debt the Fed is buying each month.

With the Fed reluctant to purchase more longer-dated bonds 10-year Treasury yields jumped almost 20 basis points last week to 1.12%, the biggest weekly rise since June.

Apple, Hyundai Set to Agree Electric Car Tie-Up, says Korea IT News

Hyundai Motor and Apple Inc plan to sign a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars by March and start production around 2024 in the United States, local newspaper Korea IT News reported on Sunday.

The report follows a statement on Friday from Hyundai Motor that it was in early talks with Apple after another local media outlet said the companies aimed to launch a self-driving electric car in 2027, sending Hyundai shares up nearly 20%.

Hyundai Motor declined to comment on the report on Sunday, and reiterated Friday’s comments that it has received requests for potential cooperation from various companies on developing autonomous EVs.

China Inflation News

China’s Producer Price Index fell 0.4% in December as compared to a year earlier, according to the country’s Bureau of Statistics. That was a smaller decline than the 0.8% fall expected in a median forecast of a Reuters poll. Meanwhile, China’s Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% year-on-year in December, against expectations of a 0.1% increase in a Reuters poll.

Gold Miners Drag Down Australian Shares

Australian shares settled lower on Monday as cases of highly transmissible new COVID-19 variants dimmed hopes for a quick economic recovery, with gold miners leading the retreat on bullion sell-offs.

With New South Wales eased lockdown measures introduced to contain an outbreak in its northern coastal suburbs, health officials said over the weekend that they were on high alert after cases of the COVID-19 variants discovered in Britain and South Africa were identified in the country.

Gold stocks dropped as bullion prices slumped to a near six-week low on a firmer U.S. Dollar and higher Treasury yields. Newcrest Mining gave up 3.6% and AngloGold Ashanti eased 4.3% to be the biggest drags on the sub-index.

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Among Threats of Pandemic and Recession, Fed Already Discussing How to Tweak Economic Support

Ahead of the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December 15-16 monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, investors were hoping the minutes would detail what drove its decision to leave its monthly bond purchases unchanged. The news rattled investors at the time because most thought the central bank should have expanded the program to better support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic.

Investors were also hoping the minutes of that meeting would detail just what drove that decision and how the Fed is factoring the promise of a coronavirus vaccine into its plans. Of greatest interest was any insight those minutes offer into what it would take for central bankers to shift monetary policy in coming months if widespread immunization triggers a stronger economic rebound.

Judging from the response in the markets to the release of the minutes at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday, it looks as if the Fed sufficiently responded to those issues.

Fed Already Discussing Next Phase

Even before the minutes were released, policymakers already had begun sketching out the next phase of their debate as discussions likely hinged on how successful the country is in delivering coronavirus shots to its 330 million residents.

“The faster we get that under control the more robust this recovery is going to look,” Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic said in an interview with Reuters this week. “We just have to ride out this time, continue to follow public health recommendations and try to minimize the spread,” while the vaccine is distributed.

Bostic said he thought it is possible that by late spring or summer, businesses that have kept off line and people that have been kept inside because of the pandemic may resume “more normal types of interaction…the middle part of the year will be quite strong.”

Fed Minutes Highlights

The Federal Reserve was nearly unanimous in its decision last month to leave its bond-buying program unchanged, but left a wide berth for officials to decide in the future if and when changes should be made, according to minutes of the U.S. central bank’s December policy meeting.

“All participants” agreed the Fed should commit to leaving the program in place until there was “substantial further progress” towards its economic goals, and “nearly all” favored keeping the current mix of assets purchased intact rather than focusing, for example, on longer-term Treasury bonds as some analysts had advocated, said the minutes, which were released on Wednesday.

But in terms of how to judge when “substantial further progress” had been achieved, “participants commented that this judgement would be broad, qualitative, and not based on specific numerical criteria or thresholds.”

Distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, Fed officials said in the minutes, was also an “upside risk.”

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

Most Asian Stock Indexes Rise on Growth Optimism; China Telco Shares Pressure Hang Seng Index

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed but mostly higher on Thursday following Wall Street’s lead after the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high the previous session. The lone loser was the Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which fell after the New York Stock Exchange changed its mind and moved to delist Chinese telecoms firms again.

In the cash market on Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 27490.13, up 434.19 or +1.60. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 27548.52, down 143.78 or -0.52% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 3031.68, up 63.47 or +2.14%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3576.20, up 25.33 or +0.71% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6712.00, up 104.90 or +1.59%.

Hong Kong Stocks Ended Lower on NYSE’s U-Turn to Delist 3 Chinese Telecoms

Hong Kong’s main Hang Seng Index ended Thursday lower, after the New York Stock Exchange moved to delist Chinese telecoms firms again. The New York Stock Exchange said on Wednesday it would delist three Chinese telecom companies, confirming its latest U-turn on the matter.

The NYSE’s announcement came a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the NYSE chief he disagreed with an earlier decision to reverse the delistings. Hong Kong shares of China Unicom led losses among the three telecom stocks, falling 11.35% at market close, the biggest loser on the Hang Seng for the day. China Mobile fell 7.18% and China Telecom Corp dropped 9.38% at market close.

In other related news the Trump administration is considering adding tech giants Alibaba and Tencent to a blacklist of firms allegedly owned or controlled by the Chinese military, two people familiar with the matter said.

Japan’s Nikkei Hits 30-year High as Financials Gain on Democrat Control of Senate

Japanese shares ended higher on Thursday, with the Nikkei touching a 30-year peak, powered by financials as U.S. bond yields climbed on expectations of larger stimulus following a Democrat sweep in two Senate runoffs in Georgia.

The Nikkei average closed 1.60% higher at 27, 490.13, hitting its highest level since August 1990 at one point during the session and snapping a four-day losing streak.

Shares of Japanese banks and insurers, big investors in U.S. debt, are highly correlated with U.S. bond yields and were boosted by moves in the Treasury market.

Aussie Shares Close Higher

Australian markets rallied as a Democrat sweep in the U.S. Senate race lifted stimulus hopes. Closer home, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the national cabinet will meet a month earlier than scheduled to discuss strengthening border processes amid the spread of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 that emerged in Britain.

Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos surged 5-7 percent as oil prices rose for a third day on data showing a bigger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and amid Saudi Arabia’s pledge to cut output.

The big four banks rose 2-4 percent, while gold miners ended broadly lower after gold futures settled with a loss of more than 2 percent on Wednesday.

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

Asia-Pacific Markets Mixed; China, Hong Kong Tech Shares Surge, Regional Energy Stocks Jump

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed with China and Hong Kong posting solid gains. Driving the price action in those two regions were developments out of Washington that centered on Chinese tech giants. In all of the areas, regional energy stocks took center stage with strong advances.

The gains in China and Hong Kong were driven by strength of shares of Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba which rose after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including WeChat Pay and Ant Group’s Alipay. The order is only set to go into effect after Trump leaves office.

In the cash market on Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 27055.94, down 102.69 or -0.38%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished 27692.30, up 42.44 or +0.15% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed 2968.21, down 22.36 or -0.75%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3550.88, up 22.20 or +0.63% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6607.10, down 74.80 or -1.12%.

In other news, regional energy stocks also advanced in Wednesday trade after Saudi Arabia agreed to voluntary production cuts in February and March. Also, a private survey showed services sector activity in China expanded at a slower pace in December.

Trump Bars US Transactions with Eight Chinese Apps Including Alipay

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Ant Group’s Alipay mobile app, the White House said, escalating tensions with Beijing two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The move, first reported by Reuters, is aimed at curbing the threat to Americans posed by Chinese software applications, which have large user bases and access to sensitive data, a senior administration official told Reuters.

China’s Blue-Chip Index Ends at 13-year High Led by Gains in Banking, Healthcare Stocks

China’s blue-chip index closed on Wednesday at its highest level in nearly 13 years after rising for five consecutive sessions, as investors expect the government to sustain policy supports to counter COVID-19’s persisting impact on the economy.

In other news, a private survey showed services sector activity in China expanding at a slower pace in December, with the Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers’ Index coming in at 56.3. That compared against November’s reading of 57.8.

Hong Kong Shares End Higher on Energy, Tech Supports

Hong Kong shares extended gains on Wednesday after rising for six consecutive sessions, led by energy and tech shares. At the close of trade, the benchmark Hang Seng Index was trading at its highest level since last February.

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

Asia-Pacific Shares Rebound after NYSE Cancels Plans to Delist Three Chinese Telecom Giants

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were mixed on Tuesday in a volatile news-driven session. The benchmarks initially fell on Tuesday amid uncertainty about Senate runoffs in Georgia, which could have a big impact on incoming U.S. President Joe Biden’s economic policies, but found support later in the session after shares of Chinese telecommunications giants surged after the New York Stock Exchange announced it will no longer delist the firms.

In the cash market on Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 27158.63, down 99.75 or -0.37%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2990.57, up 46.12 or +1.57% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 27649.86, up 177.05 or +0.64%.

In China, the benchmark Shanghai Index settled at 3528.68, up 25.72 or +0.73% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6681.90, down 2.30 or -0.03%.

Investors Watching US Runoff Elections

In the United State, control of the Senate is at stake with Tuesday’s dual runoff elections in Georgia.

A Democratic victory in both races could tip control of the Senate away from Republicans, but both contests are very tight and the results may not be immediately known, which could lead to a repeat of the chaotic vote re-counts after the U.S. presidential election last year.

“2021 starts with a bang with pivotal political and economic news for markets to digest. The undisputed highlight will be the result of the Senate seat run-off elections in Georgia,” James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, wrote in a research memo.

“If the Democrats win both seats this should lead to the most substantial 2021 fiscal stimulus. Nonetheless, it could be the excuse for a near-term consolidation in risk markets after a strong post-election rally.”

NYSE Says It Will No Longer Delist Three Chinese Telecom Giants

Hong Kong-listed shares of China Mobile soared 5.13% while China Unicom surged 8.5% and China Telecom’s stock jumped 3.35% after the New York Stock Exchange said it no longer plans to delist the three Chinese telecommunications giants.

In a late Monday statement, the NYSE said it dropped the plans after “further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities in connection with [the] Office of Foreign Assets Control.”

The announcement comes after the NYSE said on December 31 that it would move to delist American depositary shares of China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom.

The NYSE had originally planned to drop the Chinese telecom listings in order to comply with an executive order that President Donald Trump signed in November. That order sought to bar American companies and individuals from investing in firms that the Trump administration alleged aid the Chinese military.

On Monday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said the executive order was based on “political purposes” and “entirely ignored the actual situations of relevant companies and the legitimate rights of the global investors, and severely damaged market rule and order.”

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

Asia-Pacific Shares Mostly Higher; Nikkei Tumbles as Japan Considers Declaring State of Emergency for Tokyo

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes rose on the first day of trading in the new year, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index shed early gains, falling nearly 0.7% after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed the government was considering a state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures as the coronavirus spreads.

Despite the optimism over vaccines, gains may have been limited as investors are still sounding caution over the path of the virus, which continues to spread midst the discovery of a new strain.

In the cash market, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 27258.38 down 185.79 or -0.68. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 27472.81, up 241.68 or +0.89 and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2944.45, up 70.98 or +2.47%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3502.96, up 29.89 or +0.86% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6684.20, up 97.10 or +1.47%.

Japan Could Declare 1-month Virus Emergency for Tokyo Area This Week

Japan plans to declare another state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, possibly to take effect for about one month from Saturday, to curb the spread of the coronavirus as infections have continued rising, government officials said Monday.

The plan comes after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga touched on the need to consider such a special measure, following one put in place in April last year, as the greater Tokyo area is responsible for about half of the some 3,000 new daily cases reported in recent weeks.

But Suga hinted in a New Year’s press conference that social and economic activities are unlikely to be halted across the board this time, saying the state of emergency should be implemented “in a limited and focused manner.”

The officials said the measure is likely to focus on stemming the risk of infections at restaurants and bars, requesting them to close earlier and people staying home as much as possible, especially in the evenings, but no school closures are planned.

China’s Factory Activity Growth Slows, Higher Costs Hit Firms

Activity in China’s factory sector rose in December as the world’s second-largest economy sustained its recovery to pre-pandemic levels, a business survey showed on Monday, however, increasing cost pressures slowed the pace of expansion.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 53.0 from November’s 54.9, with the gauge staying well above the 50-level that separates growth from contraction but missing expectations and easing to the softest pace in three months. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast the headline would slip to 54.8.

“The negative impact of the pandemic on the domestic economy further subsided and the manufacturing industry continued to recover. Both the supply and demand sides continued to improve. Overseas demand also steadily increased,” Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, wrote in a note accompanying the survey release.

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

China Shares Soar as Factory Activity Expands; Australia Tumbles as Government Imposes New Restrictions

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were mixed on Thursday with some closing early and others not opening at all. Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed for a holiday, while markets in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong closed earlier than usual due to New Year’s Eve. In China, it was business as usual.

In the cash market on Thursday, China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3473.07, up 58.62 or +1.72%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 27231.13, up 84.02 or +0.31% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 6587.10, down 95.30 or -1.43%.

EU Agrees to Investment Deal with China to Rebalance Ties

The European Union and China agreed on Wednesday to an investment deal that will give European companies greater access to Chinese markets and help redress what Europe see as unbalanced economic ties.

The agreement was negotiated for near seven years and is likely to take at least another year to enter into force. It forms part of a new relationship with China, which the EU views as both a partner and a systemic rival.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the agreement an important landmark in the EU’s relationship with China.

Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE, said that although there was little obvious benefit for Beijing in the text, China would not have signed up without some promise of advantage.

“No major power, not least China, gives anything for free, so there will be a trade-off. It’s just not in the agreement,” he said.

China’s Factory Activity Expands at Slower Pace in December

China’s factory activity expanded in December but at a slower pace, as the country leads a pack of major economies emerging from the coronavirus slump.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 51.9 in December from 52.1 in November, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Thursday, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

Analysts had expected it to fall slightly to 52.0.

Australian Shares Fall as Country Rings in New Year with Stricter COVID-19 Restrictions

Shares in Australia tumbled nearly 1.5% on the last day of trading in 2020 in reaction to the news that the country will ring in the new year with harsher restrictions on movement, gatherings and internal borders as the country’s two largest states battle to quash fresh COVID-19 cases in their capital cities.

Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, will limit indoor gatherings to 15 people and reintroduce mandatory masks indoors starting Thursday, a day after it reported three new cases that ended its COVID-free streak of more than two months.

Though cases slightly eased in the most populous state of New South Wales (NSW), authorities described the situation as “very volatile”.

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

Asia-Pacific Stocks Finish Mixed; South Korea Gains on Final Trading Day in 2020

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed on Thursday as some investors booked profits and squared positions ahead of the new year. Others reacted to Wall Street’s lower close, while some bought stocks in anticipation of a better global economy in 2021.

The overnight news was light with investors closely watching for any fresh fiscal stimulus news from the United States. China also released a new report on its 2019 GDP growth. The U.S. Dollar also continued to weaken against a basket of major currencies, signaling that demand for risk would likely remain at heightened levels.

Wednesday’s Performances

In the cash market on Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 27444.17, down 123.98 or -0.45%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 27147.11, up 578.62 or +2.18% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2873.47, up 52.96 or +1.88%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 3414.45, up 35.42 or +1.05% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 6682.40, down 17.90 or -0.27%.

Wednesday was the final trading day in 2020 for stocks in Japan and South Korea as their markets will be closed on Thursday.

US Politics

In Washington, lawmakers continued to disagree over direct payments to Americans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s effort to fast-track the bill, passed by the House late Monday, that would increase checks to $2,000 from $600.

Although many Republican Senators remain adamantly opposed, worried about the cost to taxpayers, support is growing among them, including two from Georgia, who are running in the crucial races that will determine who will control the Senate.

China’s Blue-Chip, Start-up Indexes Hit Over Five-Year High on Growth Hopes

China’s blue-chip index and start-up board ChiNext both hit their highest in more than five years on Wednesday, as Asian stocks hit a record on hopes of a strong economic recovery next year.

Investors shrugged off the move by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to strengthen an executive order barring U.S. investment in Chinese firms with alleged military backing.

In other related news, global index publisher FTSE Russell said it may delete more Chinese companies from its global benchmarks in response.

Most sectors climbed, with energy and resources gaining the most. Investors are anticipating a robust economic recovery as several nations seek to contain the coronavirus spread with vaccines.

Some internet firms, which witnessed panic-selling earlier this week due to Beijing’s anti-trust probe into Alibaba Group, and its affiliate Ant Group, rebounded sharply on Wednesday.

Nikkei Slips from over 30-year High, but Posts Gains for 2020

Japan’s Nikkei share average ended lower on the last trading day of the year, retreating from a more than three-decade high hit in the previous session as investors booked profits, but it logged gains for a second straight year.

On the year, the Nikkei was up 16% compared to an 18.2% gain in 2019. It rose nearly 18.4% in the quarter, marking the biggest quarterly gain since the three months ended March 2013.

Japanese financial markets will be closed from Thursday and reopen on Monday, January 4.

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

Asia-Pacific Shares Mostly Higher; Alibaba’s 8% Loss Pressures Hong Kong Tech Stocks

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed but mostly higher on Monday with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng being dragged down by another plunge in shares of Alibaba. The markets were underpinned by a bullish tone on Wall Street after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a COVID relief and government funding bills days after he suggested he would block it.

In the cash market on Monday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 26854.03, up 197.42 or +0.74%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng finished at 26314.63, down 71.93 or -0.27% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2808.60, up 1.74 or +0.06%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 3397.29, up 0.72 or +0.02%. The Australian stock market was closed for a bank holiday.

Hong Kong Stocks End Down as Techs Weigh

Hong Kong stocks declined on Monday, dragged down by tech firms, amid regulatory concerns after China’s central bank called for an overhaul at Ant Group, although upbeat China data curbed losses.

Falling the most, the Hang Seng Tech Index slumped 4.3%, while the Hang Seng IT Index dived 5.9%.

Hong Kong shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd dropped 8% in its sixth straight session of decline.

Shares in new economy companies, including Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan may stay under pressure, and it’s still early for investors to hunt for bargains now, Guodu Hong Kong said in a note.

China Stocks End Higher on Upbeat Data

China stocks closed higher on Monday, helped by strong industrial profit data that underscored a continued recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.

Profits at China’s industrial firms grew robustly in November for a seventh month of gains, supported by strong industrial production and sales, as manufacturers continue their recovery from the COVID-19 downturn.

In other news, China’s central bank disclosed on Sunday it had asked the country’s payments giant Ant Group Co Ltd to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations, in the latest blow to its billionaire founder and controlling shareholder Jack Ma.

Trump Signs COVID Relief and Government Funding Bill

President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion coronavirus relief and government funding package into law on Sunday days after he suggested he would block it.

Trump averted a government shutdown late Sunday, and extended unemployment benefits to millions of Americans. The signing came days after Trump suggested he would veto the legislation, demanding $2,000 direct payments to Americans, instead of $600. U.S. stock index futures rose on the news.

Bank of Japan Divided on Stimulus Tweaks as Pandemic Stokes Deflation Fears

Bank of Japan (BOJ) policymakers were divided on how far to go in tweaking its stimulus program, with some calling for an overhaul of its strategy for achieving 2% inflation, a summary of views voiced at the December rate review showed.

The policy examination will focus on tweaking the BOJ’s purchases of exchange-traded funds (ETF) and operations for controlling the yield curve, according to the summary of the December 17 and 18 meeting released on Monday.

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

It’s Risk On after President Trump Signs Pandemic Aid and Spending Bill

A rally in the U.S. stock index futures and gold, and a weaker U.S. Dollar and 10-year Treasury Notes indicate that Monday is going to be a “risk-on” session after U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday signed into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averting a federal government shutdown in a crisis of his own making.

At 02:48 GMT, the benchmark March E-mini S&P 500 Index is up 0.53% and February Comex gold is up 1.01%. The March U.S. Dollar Index is down by 0.16% and the March Ten-Year U.S. Treasury Note is off by 0.08%.

Reuters is reporting that Trump, who leaves office on January 20 after losing November’s election to President-elect Joe Biden, backed down from his threat to block the bill, which was approved by Congress last week, after he came under intense pressure from lawmakers on both sides.

The Republican president, who golfed on Sunday and remained out of public view even as the potential government crisis loomed, had demanded that Congress change the bill to increase the size of stimulus checks for struggling Americans to $2,000 from $600.

It was not immediately clear why Trump changed his mind as his resistance to the massive legislative package promised a chaotic final stretch of his presidency, according to Reuters.

White House officials have been tight-lipped about Trump’s thinking but a source familiar with the situation said some advisers had urged him to relent because they did not see the point of refusing.

“Good news on COVID Relief Bill. Information to follow!” Trump said in a cryptic message on Twitter earlier on Sunday evening But he offered no explanation.

Global Markets Like the News

Global share prices ticked up in response to the news that Trump had passed the stimulus plan and backed away from a possible government shutdown. Japan Nikkei Index gained around 0.4%, and spot gold prices rose nearly 1%.

“It is positive for markets that we no longer have a chaos over stimulus, considering there was a chance of a partial government shutdown,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief strategist at Sumimoto Mitsui DS Asset Management.

Democrats Sided With Trump, but Not His Method

Democratic-controlled House of Representatives planned to vote on Monday to increase coronavirus relief checks to individuals from $600 to $2,000, and said the Senate “will start the process” to approve higher payments.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, said “I thank the President for signing this relief into law” but made no mention of any plans for a Senate vote on higher relief payments.

Many economists also agreed the financial aid in the bill should be higher to get the economy moving again but say that immediate support for Americans hit by coronavirus lockdowns is still urgently needed.

However, this comment opens the door for an even larger fiscal stimulus package once President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

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