Asian Shares Rally After Chinese Data

Asian stocks posted strong gains on Tuesday as a flattening of the coronavirus curve pointed to the slowing of the spread of the disease globally. Encouraging exports and imports data from China also helped ease fears of a deep global recession.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index rallied 44.24 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,827.28 after data showed the country’s exports and imports declined at a slower than expected pace in March despite the spread of coronavirus among its major trading partners. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.6 percent to 24,435.40.

In dollar terms, Chinese exports decreased 6.6 percent on a yearly basis in March, data from the General Administration of Customs revealed. This was slower than the expected decrease of 14 percent.

Imports were down 0.9 percent versus the expected decline of 9.5 percent. As a result, the trade balance showed a surplus of $19.9 billion compared to economists’ forecast of $18.5 billion.

Japanese stocks rallied as the upbeat Chinese trade data helped ease investor fears about a potential global recession. It is expected that U.S. President Donald Trump will announce a plan this week on how to jump-start stalled business.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 595.41 points, or 3.1 percent, to 19,638.81, while the broader Topix closed 2 percent higher at 1,433.51.

Heavyweight SoftBank Group gained 5.2 percent despite the company warning of an historic $16.7 billion loss on tech startups it has invested in through its Vision Fund this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian markets posted strong gains as investors cheered the encouraging Chinese data and signs the COVID-19 outbreak is starting to level off.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 100.80 points, or 1.9 percent, to 5.488.10 as trading resumed for the first time after the Good Friday and Easter holidays. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 103.10 points, or 1.9 percent, at 5,542.50.

Gold miners such as Newcrest, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining surged 9-14 percent after gold prices hit over seven-year highs on fears of a coronavirus blow to the global economy.

Afterpay shares soared 29 percent. The buy now, pay later platform said the coronavirus crisis hasn’t hampered its strong growth and it has no need to raise more money in the foreseeable future.

Energy stocks ended on a mixed note despite a record output cut deal by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia.

In economic news, a measure of Australian business confidence declined sharply to -66 in March from -2 in February, survey data showed. The index recorded its biggest fall on record and reached its lowest level since the series started. The business conditions index plunged to -21 from zero in February.

Seoul stocks rose sharply after signs emerged that New York is flattening its coronavirus curve. Better than expected Chinese data also bolstered sentiment. The Kospi rallied 31.32 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,857.08, with tech shares such as Samsung Electronics and S K Hynix rising over 1 percent.

Top automaker Hyundai Motor advanced 2.3 percent and its affiliate Kia Motors added 1.2 percent. Pharmaceutical firm Bukwang Pharm soared 24.5 percent after it won approval for clinical trials of its treatment drug for the novel coronavirus.

South Korea reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the nation’s total infections to 10,564, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new coronavirus cases stayed below 30 for the second straight day.

New Zealand shares rallied as the coronavirus death rate in Italy, Spain and France appeared to be slowing. The benchmark NZX-50 Index climbed 195.12 points, or 2 percent, to 10,159.02, led by technology and consumer stocks.

Malaysia’s KLSE Composite Index rose 1.2 percent after data showed the country’s industrial production grew at a faster than expected pace in February.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as investors braced for a painful earnings season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 1.4 percent and the S&P 500 gave up 1 percent after three days of gains.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose half a percent as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that “the worst is over” but said the virus outbreak will not be “over” until a vaccine was available.

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