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Asian shares rise on hopes of economic recovery

by Jonathan Adams
economic recovery

Nikkei 225 added nearly 0.5% to 28,767.43, the S&P/ASX200 gained 0.4% to 6,829.60, the Kospi advanced 1.4% to 3,183.52, Hang Seng climbed 1.6% to 29,927.31, and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.4% to 3,619.25

Asian shares rose Monday amid some hopes for recovering economies slammed by the pandemic, as market attention turned to upcoming company earnings.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained nearly 0.5% in morning trading to 28,767.43. Australia’s S&P/ASX200 added 0.4% to 6,829.60. South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.4% to 3,183.52. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.6% to 29,927.31, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.4% to 3,619.25.

Hopes are high that once the pandemic comes under some control, regional economies will make strong recoveries, with lockdowns easing, compared to last year, and vaccines rollouts starting in various places, including Singapore.

But worries that have rippled through markets over the coronavirus pandemic remain, including resurging cases in some parts of China and in Japan.

Vaccine breakthroughs make it likely that life will become more functional again at some point in 2021, resulting in higher GDP growth and more robust corporate earnings, said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi.

But increasing global COVID19 infections, new variants of the virus, tightening social distancing restrictions and delays in vaccine rollouts in some places, all increase the near-term growth risks, he said.

In the U.S., Wall Street had a mixed finish last week for the major stock indexes.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.3% to 3,841.47, snapping a three-day winning streak. It notched a 1.9% gain for the week. The index was coming off two straight all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6% to 30,996.98. The Nasdaq inched up 0.1% to 13,543.06, another record high. The Russell 2000 added 1.3% to 2,168.76.

Investors weighed another batch of company earnings reports Friday. The big theme in the early part of this earnings season is that most companies are handily beating Wall Street’s profits expectations for the last three months of 2020, with banks and some other industries leading the way. About 13% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported results so far.

Markets have been mostly rallying recently on hopes that COVID-19 vaccines will lead to a powerful economic recovery later this year as daily life gets closer to normal. Hopes are also high that Washington will deliver another dose of stimulus for the economy now that the White House and both houses of Congress are under single control of the Democrats.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to send $1,400 to most Americans and deliver other stimulus for the economy. But his party holds only the slimmest possible majority in the Senate, raising doubts about how much can be approved. Several Republicans have already voiced opposition to parts of the plan.



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