Asian Shares Extend Gains On Stimulus Hopes

Asian stocks advanced on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session amid optimism that China’s stimulus measures will help offset the economic impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index surged up 34.80 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,818.09 after a survey showed China’s private sector logged moderate growth in January. Total new orders received by service providers expanded at a softer rate in spite of a stronger increase in new work from abroad.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 110.76 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,786.74. Private sector business in Hong Kong continued to contract in January, albeit at a slower rate, the latest survey from HIS Markit revealed with a PMI score of 46.8, up from 42.1 in December.

Japanese stocks rallied as the safe-haven yen weakened amid easing global worries about the coronavirus outbreak. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 234.97 points, or 1 percent, to 23,319.56, while the broader Topix climbed 1 percent to 1,701.83.

In economic news, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in January, albeit at a slower rate, with a PMI score of 51.0, down from 52.1 in December.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said in parliament that it is not yet time to ease monetary policy to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the Japanese economy.

Due to the increasing size and presence of China in global supply chains, any risk to its economy is a cause of concern for other economies, Kuroda said.

Australian markets followed regional peers higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged up 27.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,976.10, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 33.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,080.90.

A recovery in copper prices helped push miners higher, with heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ending up 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Mining services provider Perenti Global soared 5 percent on news it was considering buying Downer EDI’s mining servicing business. Shares of the latter closed 0.4 percent higher.

Meanwhile, gold miner Evolution Mining lost 1.9 percent and Newcrest Mining shed 0.9 percent after a rebound in global equities resulted in a major sell-off in gold.

Banks ended mostly lower, with Commonwealth Bank losing 1.2 percent. In the healthcare sector, CSL rose 0.7 percent, Cochlear added 0.9 percent and ResMed gained 1 percent.

Travel-related stocks also gained ground after recent losses. Flight Center Travel Group advanced 1.7 percent and Qantas Airways rose 0.8 percent.

Australia’s private sector recovered in January, driven by services business activity, survey results from IHS Markit showed today. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia composite output index rose to 50.2 in January from 49.6 in December.

Separately, the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction survey suggested that the construction downturn eased in January. The corresponding index increased by 2.4 points to 41.3 points in January.

Seoul stocks rose for a second straight session as investors took solace from Beijing’s steps to stabilize the volatile financial markets and support growth amid the fast-spreading coronavirus. The benchmark Kospi edged up 7.73 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,165.63.

New Zealand shares joined the global rally after Chinese stimulus helped allay fears about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The benchmark
S&P/NZX 50 Index climbed 92.59 points, or 0.8 percent, to 11,604.08 after the release of a mixed bag of labor data.

U.S. stocks posted healthy gains for a second straight day overnight on expectations that Chinese policymakers will unveil more measures to support an economy jolted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.4 percent and S&P 500 surged 1.5 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared 2.1 percent to reach a fresh record closing high.

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