Asian Shares Rise On Vaccine Hopes

Asian stocks closed higher on Monday amid renewed optimism surrounding coronavirus vaccines after drug maker AstraZeneca said that the late-stage clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine has resumed in the UK. The trial was suspended last week over safety concerns.

Investors now look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy decision scheduled for Wednesday.

Shares in China and Hong Kong rose for the second straight day amid expectations about the economic recovery in China.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 18.47 points, or 0.6 percent to close at 3,278.81, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 136.97 points or 0.6 percent to 24,640.28.

Japanese shares advanced for the third consecutive day. Investors digested news that Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected new president of the Liberal Democratic Party, succeeding outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Suga is expected to continue with Abe’s economic policies.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index climbed 152.81 points, or 0.7 percent to close at 23,559.30 and the broader Topix rose 14.46 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,651.10.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group gained almost 9 percent after the company said it has reached an agreement to sell UK chip designer Arm Ltd. to U.S. chipmaker Nvidia for up to $40 billion. Meanwhile, Fast Retailing gained 1.1 percent.

Australian stocks rose as investors cheered news about the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions in Melbourne as the number of new coronavirus cases continued to fall in the state of Victoria.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index added 40.10 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 5,899.50 and the broader All Ordinaries Index advanced 39.60 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,078.50.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto gained 3.9 percent, Fortescue Metals added 2.1 percent and BHP Group rose 1.9 percent.

In the oil sector, Santos climbed 3.2 percent, Oil Search advanced 2.5 percent and Woodside Petroleum added 1.3 percent.

Macquarie Group said it expects a 35 percent decrease in first-half profit and said it was unable to provide “meaningful” guidance for the full year amid market conditions that are likely to remain challenging. The investment bank’s shares dropped 4.7 percent.

New Zealand shares closed higher as investors shrugged off the mixed cues from Wall Street. The benchmark NZX 50 Index rose 42.51 points or 0.4 percent to settle at 11,790.54.

Tourism operator Tourism Holdings climbed 12.9 percent after raising its earnings outlook for the full year. Metlifecare Ltd. added 0.2 percent after the company’s acquisition by Sweden’s Asia Pacific Village was approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

Seoul stocks rose for the third consecutive day, reflecting gains in tech shares and as social distancing measures were eased in South Korea. The benchmark Kospi gained 31.22 points or 1.3 percent to finish at 2,427.91.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics advanced 2.4 percent and chipmaker SK Hynix rose 2.0 percent.

HDC Hyundai Development Co. edged down 0.2 percent after the company’s planned takeover of debt-ridden Asiana Airlines fell through last week amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shares of Asiana Airlines lost 2.5 percent.

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