Asia-Pacific stocks extend gains as investors see progress in world’s war to defeat the coronavirus

08-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Asia stocks extended gains Tuesday after US equities surged amid continued signs lockdowns in the US and other hotspot countries may be working against the coronavirus.

The respiratory pandemic has sickened 1.3 million people including UK prime minister Boris killed nearly 74,000, and led to half of the world’s population being put under lockdown. It has also sent the global economy into a recession, as it upends supply chains, closes businesses and throws workers out of jobs. The US, Spain, France and Germany were among countries reporting fewer new daily cases or deaths.

A mind-boggling 10 million Americans filed jobless claims over the past two weeks as the world’s largest economy prepares to throw another huge stimulus bill at the economic problems caused by the virus. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said deaths in the hotspot state may be hitting a plateau, boosting market sentiment and sending the three major benchmarks up at least 7 per cent.

“In this environment, the Covid19 curve flattening scenario is one of these critical signals the keep investors not only hovering over but pressing the buy button continuously,” said Stephen Innes, chief global strategist.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.6 per cent as of 10:50am, with stocks pulling back some. Macau casinos, Chinese airlines and gold-linked stocks were outperformers. HSBC, which tumbled three straight days last week after announcing it was cancelling it dividends, rose for a second day.

China markets, which reopened after a holiday Monday, advanced 1.7 per cent.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, benchmarks extended big rallies seen Monday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 2.7 per cent, after going up 4.2 per cent on Monday, as the government took strong steps to fight the virus.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe announced on Monday that he will declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures to contain the coronavirus. Abe said the government will roll out a record near-US$1 trillion stimulus package for families and business. That is equivalent to 20 per cent of Japan’s GDP.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.3 per cent, boosted by index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which said it expects $5.2 billion in first-quarter operating profit, beating estimates slightly. On Monday, the benchmark surged 3.9 per cent, technically entering a bull market as it closed 23 per cent above its March 19 low.

South Korea’s tech-heavy Kosdaq gained 1 per cent, after advancing 4.2 per cent on Monday.

Australia’s ASX 200 jumped 1.8 per cent, after shooting up 4.3 per cent on Monday.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX50 rose 2.1 per cent. It was an outlier on Monday, declining 1.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 1.8 per cent, after it shot up 3.4 per cent on Monday.

If the world’s “stay at home” orders succeed as a bridge to medical breakthroughs and people return fairly quickly to work, “the world will face the most massive wave of asset price inflation in recorded history. Once the economy starts to show signs of returning to pre-pandemic form, then it’s all systems go, the unfathomably massive global stimulus will find its way into every nook and cranny of virtually every asset class,” analyst Innes writes.


Category: FinanceAsia

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