Asian Shares Mixed As China COVID Cases Rise

Asian stocks ended Tuesday’s session on a mixed note amid concerns about the fate of China’s zero-COVID policy and ahead of U.S. consumer inflation data due on Thursday that could influence the Federal Reserve’s rate-hike narrative.

The dollar held steady as Americans head to the polls to determine which party will be in control of the U.S. Congress. Gold slipped on dollar strength, while oil prices were little changed as investors weighed supply worries against recession fears.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.4 percent to 3,064.49 as the country grappled with its worst COVID-19 outbreak since May.

New coronavirus cases surged in Guangzhou and other Chinese cities, preventing the country from stamping out the virus and relaxing controls.

China’s foreign exchange reserves rose nearly 0.8 percent in October from the previous month as the U.S. dollar weakened, according to data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.2 percent to 16,557.31, wiping out morning gains.

Japanese shares rallied to close near eight-week highs, with chip-related and other tech stocks leading the surge. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.3 percent to 27,872.11, marking its highest close since September 15. The broader Topix ended 1.2 percent higher at 1,957.56.

Sony, Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings all rose about 3 percent, while heavyweight SoftBank Group soared 5 percent.

Toshiba gave up 1.8 percent on a Nikkei report that private equity fund Japan Industrial Partners has submitted a bid to buy the conglomerate for $15 billion that lacks key commitments from banks.

Seoul stocks advanced on hopes of easing Fed policy. The Kospi climbed 1.2 percent to 2,399.04 – extending gains for a third straight session.

Samsung Electronics, Kakao and Naver jumped 3-5 percent, while Posco Chemical and LG Chem lost 1-2 percent.

Australian markets finished modestly higher despite weak readings on consumer sentiment and business confidence. The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent to 6,958.90 while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.3 percent higher at 7,150.10.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark NZX-50 Index slumped 1.2 percent to 11,151.89 after a central bank survey showed inflation expectations in the country rose across the time curve in the fourth quarter of 2022.

U.S. stocks rose overnight to add to the strong gains posted last Friday as investors looked ahead to congressional mid-term elections on Tuesday and the release of a key inflation report on Thursday.

The Dow climbed 1.3 percent, the S&P 500 added 1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.9 percent.

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