World Health Organization boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the fight against the virus is far from over
Hong Kong (AFP) - Stock markets rose in Asia on Tuesday as traders welcomed positive economic data from China and the US, which helped offset a pick-up in virus infections and the reimposition of containment measures in some countries.
The easing of lockdowns in recent months has been a key catalyst for world equities as investors – supported by a wall of government and central bank cash – bet on a sharp recovery from what is expected to be a global recession this year.
Wall Street provided a healthy lead, helped by news of a record 44-percent on-month jump in US pending home sales in June, as well as a massive improvement in manufacturing activity as reported by the Dallas Federal Reserve.
On Tuesday, China said its purchasing managers index (PMI) of factory activity improved on May and beat forecasts, while the non-manufacturing reading was also better than hoped.
The readings from the world’s top two economies provided some much-needed hope to investors that a rebound is stirring, helped by the reopening of businesses around the world, led by Europe.
Fed boss Jerome Powell lifted the mood with comments on the economic recovery as he said consumer spending had seen a big jump in May and the US economy had “entered an important new phase sooner than expected”, though he warned the recovery was dependent on keeping the virus in check.
Tokyo, Sydney, Wellington, Manila and Bangkok were all more than one percent higher, while Shanghai added 0.8 percent and Hong Kong gained 0.5 percent. There were also healthy gains in Singapore, Mumbai and Taipei.
In early trade, London dipped as officials reimposed lockdown measures in the city of Leicester, while data showed the UK economy shrank more than first thought in the first quarter. Paris and Frankfurt edged higher.
“Worries about second-wave states appear now to be last week’s news, so it seems, as investors turn focus to the robust reopening narrative,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.
- Hong Kong nerves -
However, there remains a lot of uncertainty on trading floors owing to a spike in new cases in the US, which has led to the reclosure of bars in Los Angeles and the reimposition of measures to fight the disease elsewhere.
Germany, while pressing ahead with easing moves, has also been forced to lock down some districts, while there are also strict measures in place in parts of Beijing and Victoria state in Australia.
And World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pressed home the long fight ahead for the world, saying “the hard reality is this is not even close to being over”, adding that “although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up”.
In Hong Kong, traders were keeping a nervous eye on Wednesday’s anniversary of the handover to China, fearing fresh clashes as Beijing passed a controversial security law banning subversion, secession and terrorism that critics fear will demolish the business hub’s cherished political freedoms.
On Monday, the White House ended sensitive defence exports to Hong Kong, while the Commerce Department simultaneously said it was revoking its special status for Hong Kong.
It will now treat the financial hub the same as China for so-called dual-use exports that have both military and civilian applications – and which are highly restricted when sought by Beijing. The move led China to say it would take “countermeasures”.
- Key figures around 0810 GMT -
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 22,288.14 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 24,427.19 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 2,984.67 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,208.55
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.7 percent at $39.43 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.6 percent at $41.48 per barrel
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1209 from $1.1242 at 2040 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 107.71 yen from 107.56 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2270 from $1.2291
Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.35 pence from 91.42 pence
New York - Dow: UP 2.3 percent at 25,595.80 (close)