Asian Shares Rally As Trump Signals Improving Health

Asian stocks rallied on Monday as reports of U.S. President Donald Trump’s improving health eased some of the political uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidential election in November.

Optimistic statements by key U.S. officials related to a new $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal also helped underpin investor sentiment.

Over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the stimulus bill, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed stronger confidence about the stimulus talks.

Markets in China were closed for the National Day holiday. Hong Kong’ Hang Seng Index jumped 1.3 percent to 23,767.78.

Japanese shares rose sharply as investors cheered prospects of Trump’s early hospital discharge. The Nikkei 225 Index gained 282.24 points, or 1.2 percent, to finish at 23,312.14, with buying seen in value firms, including railway companies after Friday’s plunge. The broader Topix closed 1.7 percent higher at 1,637.25.

East Japan Railway, West Japan Railway and Central Japan Railway surged 4-6 percent on hopes for increased travel demand due to the government’s campaign to encourage domestic tourism.

Honda Motor advanced 2.6 percent after the carmaker announced it would end its participation as an engine supplier in the FIA Formula One World Championship to focus on zero-emission technology.

Electronics giant NEC Corp. gained 2.5 percent on saying it will acquire Swiss banking software developer Avaloq for 2.05 billion Swiss francs, or $2.2 billion.

On the data front, the services sector in Japan continued to contract in September, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed with a seasonally adjusted services PMI score of 46.6, up from 45.0 in August.

Australian markets rallied as Victoria recorded no new coronavirus deaths and the federal government said it will earmark an additional A$1.2 billion ($859 million) in wage subsidies in the 2020/21 budget.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 150.10 points, or 2.6 percent, to 5,941.60, the highest close since last Tuesday. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 151.90 points, or 2.5 percent, at 6,135.10.

The big four banks rose around 4 percent each, while energy stocks such as Beach Energy, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search rallied 5-7 percent. Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rose 2-3 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from IHS Markit showed that the services sector in Australia moved into expansion territory in September, with a seasonally adjusted services PMI score of 50.8, up from 49.0 in August.

Seoul stocks extended gains for the fourth straight session as investors cheered signs of progress in negotiations over fresh U.S. stimulus measures. The benchmark Kospi surged up 30.11 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,358.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics rose 0.9 percent, while automaker Hyundai Motor surged 4.8 percent and its affiliate Kia Motors soared 7.7 percent.

Investors shrugged off the latest survey results showing that the manufacturing sector in South Korea continued to contract in September, albeit at a slower pace.

New Zealand shares tracked their Australian counterparts higher, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index rising 75.42 points, or 0.6 percent, to 11,898.26 on the back of more positive headlines on Trump’s health.

Fletcher Building advanced 2.5 percent on expectations that it will benefit from the apprenticeship subsidy in Australia. Heavyweights Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and A2 Milk rose 2.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

U.S. stocks ended firmly in the red on Friday after President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus and data showed U.S. job growth slowed by much more than anticipated in September.

U.S. non-farm payroll employment rose by 661,000 jobs in September, while economists had expected employment to increase by 850,000 jobs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped half a percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 2.2 percent and the S&P 500 shed 1 percent.

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