Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Thursday as stimulus announcements by Japan and the European Commission failed to ease investor concerns surrounding rising U.S.-China tensions.
China’s Shanghai Composite index edged up 0.33 percent to 2,846.22, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended down 0.72 percent at 23,132.76 on concerns that a new security law will end the city’s autonomy.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer merits special treatment under U.S. law, following Beijing’s plan to impose a controversial new security law on the territory.
The declaration could have major implications for Hong Kong’s status as a global financial and trading hub.
A punitive U.S. response to China on the issue of Hong Kong may prompt Beijing to take some proportionate countermeasures, further straining ties between the world’s two largest economies.
Japanese shares extended gains to close at a fresh three-month high on optimism about economic recovery from the pandemic.
The Nikkei average jumped 497.08 points, or 2.32 percent, to 21,916.31, the highest close since Feb. 27, a day after the Cabinet approved a 31.91 trillion yen ($296 billion) second supplementary budget for the fiscal year through next March to reduce the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
The broader Topix index closed 1.80 percent higher at 1,577.34, the highest since Feb. 26.
Dentsu Group shares soared 16.4 percent after the company said it is looking to make a 7 percent cut in global costs.
Nissan surged 8.2 percent and Mitsubishi Motors climbed 6.4 percent after reaffirming their commitment to a three-way alliance with French automaker Renault.
Australian markets rallied after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said an economic recovery by spring was possible, following an easing of coronavirus trading restrictions.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 76.10 points, or 1.32 percent, to 5,851.10, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 72.90 points, or 1.24 percent, at 5,957.80.
Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac climbed 4-5 percent, while Commonwealth Bank advanced 2.2 percent. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank surged 4.1 percent after the regional lender announced it would make a provision of A$148.3 million for potential future impacts due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group gained 2-3 percent, while gold miner Evolution Mining soared 4.3 percent.
News Corp rose 1.1 percent. The media company said that the bulk of its regional and suburban community papers in Australia will go digital only from June 29, leading to job losses.
Australia’s total new capital expenditure fell 1.6 percent sequentially in the first quarter, slower than the 2.6 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2019, official data showed today. Economists had forecast another 2.6 percent drop in the first quarter.
Seoul stocks finished marginally lower after the Bank of Korea cut its policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a record low, saying economic growth in the country has slowed considerably. The benchmark Kospi slipped 0.13 percent to 2,028.54.
New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end sharply lower for the day amid concerns over U.S.-China tensions. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 192.50 points, or 1.74 percent, to 10,856.69, with Sky Network Television shares plunging as much as 15.6 percent.
U.S. stocks rose for a third day running on Wednesday amid continued optimism about the reopening of businesses and progress in vaccine development.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 2.2 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.5 percent to reach their best closing levels since early March, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8 percent to hit its highest closing level in over three months.
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