Asia Pacific stocks mixed as investors watch for stimulus
Stocks in Asia Pacific traded mixed on Wednesday morning as investors continue to watch for developments around government stimulus as the coronavirus continues its spread globally.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.16% in early trade while the Topix index gained 0.73%. South Korea’s Kospi traded largely flat.
Stocks in Australia, however, fell in morning trade as the S&P/ASX 200 slipped more than 1%.
Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan was largely flat.
National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Tapas Strickland warned in a Wednesday morning note that markets are “likely to remain volatile” as headlines around the coronavirus “continue to be on the negative side.”
Strickland, who is a director of economics and markets at the Australian lender, cited reports of the number of coronavirus cases in Italy spiking past 10,000 as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield’s comments that certain areas of the U.S. are currently in “high mitigation” rather than containment.
Concerns surrounding the global coronavirus outbreak have sent markets on a roller-coaster ride in recent days. The disease has infected more than 118,000 and taken at least 4,262 lives so far, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.
As investors watch for stimulus measures by governments to combat the coronavirus’ impact, a White House official told CNBC that U.S. President Donald Trump pitched a 0% payroll tax for employers and employees for the rest of the year during a meeting with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
Japan also unveiled a package worth about $4 billion on Tuesday to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters.
Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1,167.14 points higher at 25,018.16, cutting its Monday losses in half. The S&P 500 gained 4.9% to end its trading day at 2,882.23 — its best day since Dec. 26, 2018. The Nasdaq Composite also jumped 4.9% to close at 8,347.40.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.276 after seeing lows below 95.2 earlier this week.
The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency, traded at 105.09 per dollar after touching an earlier low of 105.67. The Australian dollar was at $0.649 after its slip yesterday from levels above $0.657.
Oil prices were mixed in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures advancing 0.89% to $37.55 per barrel. U.S. crude futures, on the other hand, slipped 0.23% to $34.28 per barrel.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap in the trading day ahead:
- Australia: Home loans for January at 8:30 a.m HK/SIN