Asian stocks rose on Thursday on optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine and amid signs that the global economy is emerging from the coronavirus lockdown.
Investors also looked ahead to the U.S. Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report for June due later in the day for further clues about the health of the world’s largest economy.
Chinese shares soared on signs the economy is gradually emerging from a sharp contraction. Sentiment was also bolstered by hopes of more government spending after the finance ministry said it would sell more special treasury bonds to fund public health-related infrastructure facilities.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 64.59 points, or 2.1 percent, to 3,090.57, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared 697.00 points, or 2.9 percent, to 25,124.19.
Japanese shares fluctuated before finishing marginally higher on hopes of an economic recovery. The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 24.23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,145.96, paring early gains after Tokyo reported a spike in Covid-19 cases. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,542.76.
Japan’s capital city of Tokyo confirmed more than 100 more novel coronavirus infections today, the highest daily tally in two months.
Toyota Motor gained 1.8 percent a day after U.S. electric carmaker Tesla overtook the company to become the world’s most valuable auto company in terms of market capitalization.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group advanced 1.4 percent, while Fast Retailing dropped 0.3 percent. Banks ended broadly higher, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial rising 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Australian markets advanced, with promising results from a Covid-19 vaccine trial and encouraging data from the United States and China boosting sentiment.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rallied 98.30 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,032.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index surged up 101.30 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,142 30.
Healthcare stocks gained ground, with CSL adding 1.9 percent, while Cochlear climbed over 3 percent and Resmed gained 2.1 percent.
In the technology sector, Afterpay surged 9.5 percent as Citi raised its target price on the stock. Appen rallied 3.1 percent and WiseTech Global soared 6.2 percent.
Energy companies such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy rose 1-2 percent on the back of overnight gains in oil prices on data showing a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories.
Qantas Airways rose over 1 percent. The airline said it is offering retail shareholders a 2.5 percent discount in a share purchase plan to raise A$500 million, following a A$1.4 billion placement to institutional investors that it completed last week.
In economic news, the Australian trade surplus increased to A$8.02 billion in May from A$7.83 billion in the previous month as a decline in imports exceeded a drop in exports, official data showed.
Seoul stocks rose sharply on hopes of a vaccine for Covid-19, which has killed more than half a million people globally. The benchmark Kospi jumped 28.67 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,135.37, led by pharma stocks.
SK Biopharmaceuticals Co. spiked 30 percent on the day of its debut, while Samsung BioLogics surged 4.5 percent and Celltrion advanced 3.7 percent.
New Zealand shares also saw significant strength, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index climbing 152.25 points, or 1.3 percent, to 11,502.52, led by utility stocks.
Kathmandu Holdings surged up 11.4 percent. The outdoor goods and clothing retailer reported a strong recovery in sales during the last six weeks but said it remains cautious about medium-term levels of consumer demand.
U.S. stocks closed mostly higher overnight as traders weighed Coivid-19 vaccine progress against mixed economic data and a spike in national virus cases.
While private payrolls data disappointed, a measure of U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly expanded in June, ending three months of contraction.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rallied 1 percent to reach a fresh record closing high and the S&P 500 gained half a percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 percent.
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