Asian stocks follow Wall St up, silver eases off high

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks followed Wall Street higher Tuesday after President Joe Biden invited Republicans to a meeting to discuss economic aid, while silver eased off an eight-year high.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul all advanced.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index gained 1.6%, recovering some of losses earlier in the week amid frenzied trading of video game retailer GameStop and other stocks targeted by novice day traders.

In Washington, Biden invited 10 moderate Republicans to the White House to discuss his proposed $1.9 trillion economic aid plan. Republicans earlier countered with an offer of $600 billion, or less than one-third of Biden’s proposed amount.

“The sound of more stimulus, which tends to raise all boats, was music to the market’s ears,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5% to 3,523.71 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 1% to 28,376.20. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.9% to 29,453.37.

The Kospi in Seoul was 2.1% higher at 3,120.27 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 1.2% to 6,744.70.

New Zealand and Jakarta retreated while Singapore and Bangkok rose.

Silver declined after jumping at one point to its highest level in eight years.

Silver for March delivery shed 81 cents, or 2.7%, to $28.61 per ounce in London.

Last week, there were messages on the Reddit forum WallStreet Bets and other places on social media encouraging small investors to buy silver. It shot up Monday, but many online investors said it wasn’t them bidding up the price.

Smaller traders are learning “the silver market is much bigger than some of the small cap stocks they have been trading,” said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report. “Silver coin purchases and call option bets are not enough of a driver to send silver prices skyrocketing to record high levels.”

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index gained to 3,773.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8% to 30,211.91. The Nasdaq composite climbed 2.5% to 13,403.39.

U.S. markets have been roiled by frenzied trading in GameStop and some other stocks that had been expected to decline but surged after novice traders bought. Other investors said hedge funds that bet against those stocks were losing money and selling other shares.

GameStop slumped 30.8% to $225 a share. It ended last year at about $18.

Tech stocks led the way higher. Communication stocks and a variety of companies that rely on direct consumer spending such as Starbucks and AutoZone also helped lift the market.

Hopes for economic aid, along with the Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep low-cost credit plentiful, have carried the S&P 500 and other major indexes to record highs.

Investors bid up stocks heading into 2021 in expectation the rollout of coronavirus vaccines would allow global business and travel to return to normal. That optimism has been dented by infection spikes and disruptions in vaccine deliveries.

Markets were rattled last week by AstraZeneca’s announcement it would supply the European Union with fewer than half the promised doses, which prompted the EU to impose export controls. On Sunday, AstraZeneca promised to increase European supplies and start delivery earlier.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 52 cents to $54.07 per barrel. The contract gained $1.35 on Monday to $53.55 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 49 cents to $56.84 per barrel in London. It advanced $1.31 the previous session to $56.35.

The dollar edged down to 104.92 yen from Monday’s 104.94 yen. The euro rose to $1.2086 from $1.2066.