Asian Shares Rise On U.S. Stimulus Hopes

Asian stocks moved mostly higher on Friday, with investor sentiment lifted by reports that Democrats are drafting a new $2.4 trillion relief bill, aimed at resuming the stalled stimulus talks with Republicans.

The upside was limited by growing concerns over fresh coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and political uncertainty from the U.S. presidential election set for November.

Chinese shares fluctuated before finishing slightly lower on worries about a resurgence in Covid-19 cases globally. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 3.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,219.42, logging a 3.6 percent loss for the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged down 75.65 points, or 0.3 percent, to 23,235.42.

Japanese stocks closed higher after two days of losses. The Nikkei 225 Index rose 116.80 points, or 0.5 percent, to 23,204.62 as a weaker yen lifted exporters’ stocks. The broader Topix ended up 7.79 points, or 0.5 percent, at 1,634.23. Market heavyweight SoftBank Group rose 1.3 percent and Fast Retailing gained 1.1 percent.

Australian markets rallied as investors cheered news that three major states – New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria – plan to further ease coronavirus restrictions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 89 points, or 1.5 percent, to 5,964.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 84 points, or 1.4 percent, at 6,140.50.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac surged 6-7 percent after the federal government said it would simplify bank lending rules in a bid to reduce red tape for lenders and increase the flow of credit to consumers and businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto advanced 1.9 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. Gold miners rose broadly despite gold slipping to its lowest level in over two months. Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos rose around 2 percent.

Seoul stocks eked out modest gains on hopes for new economic stimulus in the United States. The Kospi ended a choppy session up 6.09 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,278.79.

Biopharmaceutical company Celltrion jumped 3.4 percent, steelmaker POSCO gained 3.2 percent and leading chemical maker LG Chem advanced 2.6 percent.

New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark NZX-50 index ending up 107.19 points, or 0.9 percent, at 11,797.08, led by dual-listed banks.

U.S. stocks ended a choppy session modestly higher on Thursday as stimulus hopes and encouraging housing data outweighed rising Covid-19 counts globally.

Stimulus talks resumed between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with the Trump administration official noting that a second deal is “still needed.”

House Democrats are working on a $2.4 trillion proposal as the window to pass timely stimulus closes, Bloomberg reported.

The Dow inched up 0.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.3 percent.

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