Asia shares mostly higher after US stocks gain for fifth day

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March 16, 2021 10:07 AM

Asian shares mostly rose on Tuesday, cheered by a rally to all-time highs on Wall Street. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 per cent to 29,953.97. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 per cent to 3,054.77.

asian sharesHong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent to 28,971.04, while the Shanghai Composite inched down nearly 0.1 per cent to 3,417.02. (Photo source: AP)

Asian shares mostly rose on Tuesday, cheered by a rally to all-time highs on Wall Street. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 per cent to 29,953.97. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 per cent to 3,054.77.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.1 per cent to 6,846.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent to 28,971.04, while the Shanghai Composite inched down nearly 0.1 per cent to 3,417.02.

The slower rollouts of the coronavirus vaccine in Asia, compared to the US and Europe, continues to put investors in the region in a cautionary mode, although South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and other nations have had fewer deaths.

Weighing on sentiment is news that the vaccine from AstraZeneca had had reports ”blood clots after usage, whether or not a side-effect, (that) have resulted in a precautionary’ suspension in Europe,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

”This has setback Europe’s vaccination progress even more starkly compared to the US,” Lavanya said in a report.

The news is also bad for Japan. Japan has started vaccinations of medical professionals with the product from Pfizer, but was set to use those from Moderna as well as AstraZeneca. The AstraZeneca vaccines were due to be produced in Japan, unlike the other two brands.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.7 per cent to 3,368.94 after having been down 0.5 per cent in early trading, extending its winning streak to a fifth day. Technology stocks, airlines, cruise operators and other companies that rely on consumer spending helped lift the market. Banks and energy stocks were the only laggards.

Wall Street continues to eye the bond market, where yields pulled back a bit from Friday’s sharp increase. Investors are also focused on the recovery of the US and global economies from the coronavirus pandemic.

The USD 1.9 trillion aid package for the US economy has lifted investors’ confidence in a strong recovery from the pandemic in the second half of the year, but also raised concerns about a potential jump in inflation. President Joe Biden’s pledge to expand vaccine eligibility to all Americans by May 1 should also translate into faster economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5 per cent, to 32,953.46. Both indexes hit all-time highs, eclipsing records set on Friday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.1 per cent to 13,459.71, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 0.3 per cent to 2,360.17. That gain was enough for an all-time high.

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