Asia shares rise on vaccine hopes, tech rally on Wall Street
Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday on rising hopes for an effective vaccine to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists at Oxford University reported that their experimental coronavirus vaccine prompted a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot in an early trial.
Other projects are under way. A vaccine under development by colleagues of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert at the National Institutes of Health, and Moderna Inc., will start its final testing around July 27. The 30,000-person study is intended to prove if the shots are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.6% in morning trading to 22,856.71. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.3% to 2,227.56. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.5% to 6,088.90. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.5% to 25,444.61, while the Shanghai Composite edged 0.1% higher, to 3,316.56.
Shares also rose in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.
Asian economies have been carrying out a “new-normal” balancing act of opening economies, with people going shopping and eating out, while doing social distancing and wearing masks.
That’s had mixed results, with cases shooting up recently in Tokyo to triple-digit figures for daily newly confirmed cases. Japan had so far avoided the massive cases and deaths seen in harder hit nations like the U.S., India, Brazil and parts of Europe.
Overnight, U.S. technology and communication stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending led mixed gains on Wall Street, outweighing losses elsewhere in the market.
Amazon led the way higher in the S&P 500 with a 7.9% gain. Microsoft also helped lift the market, rising 4.3%. Noble Energy climbed 5.4% after the company agreed to be acquired by Chevron for $5 billion.
Technology and communications stocks and big e-commerce retailers like Amazon have benefited this year as the pandemic has forced people to largely stay home and rely increasingly on the internet for shopping, work and entertainment. Banks, airlines and cruise lines have suffered.
The S&P 500 gained 0.8% to 3,251.84. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was down for most of the day, inched just 0.1% higher, to 26,680.87.
The Nasdaq had its best day since the end of April, climbing 2.5% to 10,767.09. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 0.4% to 1,467.95.
Wall Street is coming off its third straight weekly gain following improvements in hiring, retail sales and other parts of the economy, along with rising hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine. Still, worries remain that the rise of coronavirus counts will derail efforts to reopen businesses shut down due to the pandemic.
This week will bring earnings reports from major U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola and Microsoft. Expectations are low for companies’ performance in the April-June quarter due to the pandemic, given the economic fallout from the broad business shutdowns and higher unemployment.
The price of benchmark U.S oil added 6 cents to $40.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 22 cents to $40.81 a barrel Monday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 8 cents to $43.36 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar was unchanged at 107.20 Japanese yen. The euro rose to $1.1461 from $1.1444.
AP Business Writers Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise contributed.