Asian Shares Rally After Fed Promises Economic Support
Asian stocks posted strong gains on Tuesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would purchase an unlimited amount of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, a move that will help reduce currency and credit risks amid fears of a virus-induced global recession.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped 62.27 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,722.44, as the Fed’s unprecedented measures helped ease strains in financial markets hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up 967.36 points, or 4.5 percent, to 22,663.49.
Japanese shares posted their biggest single-day gain since February 2016 amid hopes for massive buying by the Bank of Japan, public pension funds and listed companies.
The Nikkei 225 Index soared 1,204.57 points, or 7.1 percent, to 18,092.35, marking its biggest daily surge in over four years and the highest close in 1-1/2 weeks. The broader Topix spiked 3.2 percent to finish at 1,333.10.
Heavyweight SoftBank Group jumped 19 percent to extend gains from the previous session after announcing asset sales and a record share buyback. Oil firm Inpex climbed 10.8 percent and chipmaking equipment supplier Tokyo Electron added 18 percent.
On the economic front, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan contracted at a faster pace in March, with a preliminary manufacturing PMI score of 44.8, down from 47.8 in February.
The services PMI from Jibun Bank was even more troubling, as it plummeted all the way down to 32.7 in March from 46.8 in February – largely reflecting the chaos wrought by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Australian markets rebounded from a nearly eight-year low as Italy recorded a smaller day-to-day increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day and the Parliament passed a second round of stimulus measures worth $66 billion aimed at protecting workers and small businesses.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 189.70 points, or 4.2 percent, to 4,735.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index surged up 189.20 points, or 4.2 percent, to 4,753.30.
The big four banks rose 3-5 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto jumped 5.1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum surged 5.6 percent, Oil Search advanced 8.5 percent and Santos spiked over 20 percent
Seven West Media added 1.5 percent despite the media company withdrawing its full-year earnings guidance due to the postponing of events like the Tokyo Olympics and AFL competition as well as falling advertising market activity.
Meanwhile, Woolworths Group shed 0.7 percent after the supermarket giant said it cannot estimate the impact of COVID-19 on its full-year financial results.
Seoul stocks rebounded sharply as the government doubled a planned economic rescue package to 100 trillion won ($80 billion).
The benchmark Kospi rallied 127.51 points, or 8.6 percent, to close at 1,609.97 after a 5.3 percent plunge in the previous session. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics soared 10.5 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix spiked 13.4 percent.
New Zealand shares posted strong gains after the government said it would provide a major financial support package for home owners and businesses that are badly hit by COVID-19.
The benchmark NZX-50 Index soared 610.45 points, or 7.2 percent, to 9,109.15. Shares of campervan and tourism operator Tourism Holdings jumped 32.7 percent and retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare surged 23.8 percent.
U.S. stocks ended sharply lower overnight as confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. jumped above 40,000 and a massive fiscal stimulus bill failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate for the second straight day.
President Donald Trump praised Fed Chair Jerome Powell after the central bank said it would purchase an unlimited number of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to support smooth market functioning.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 3 percent and the S&P 500 plunged 2.9 percent to hit fresh three-year closing lows, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.3 percent to end at its lowest level in over a year.
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