Asian stocks mixed amid concern over coronavirus hotspots

AP Business Writer

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Asian investors “will feel encouraged” by China’s quick response to this week’s coronavirus cases in Beijing, but sentiment “remained toned down” following a surge in U.S. infections, said Stephen Innes of AxiTrader Corp. in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4% to 2,951.39 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.1% to 22,385.10. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.1% to 24,427.41 and Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.4% to 2,121.51.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Australia added 0.8% to 5,986.80. New Zealand advanced while Singapore declined.

On Thursday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 edged up by 0.1% to 3,115.34 after flipping between small gains and losses through the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2% to 26.080.10, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3% to 9,943.05.

Markets worldwide gained after unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs and retail sales data fueled hopes the world’s biggest economy can pull out of its recession as governments ease up on anti-virus measures.

“There has been a more broad-based improvement in growth trends around the world,” said Morgan Stanley economists in a report. “High frequency indicators suggest that we are seeing a further acceleration in growth in June as compared to May.”

Investor enthusiasm has been dented, however, by concern rising infections in some U.S. states, Brazil and other regions might prompt consumers and businesses to pull back spending even if sweeping lockdowns aren’t reimposed.

Sentiment also has been supported by aid from central banks.

On Thursday, the Bank of England increased the size of its bond-buying program to keep interest rates low. A day earlier, the Federal Reserve said it will keep interest rates close to zero and purchase a wider range of bonds to inject money into the financial system.

The S&P 500 has cut its loss for the year to 8%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 33 cents to $39.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled Thursday at $38.84. Brent crude, the benchmark for international prices, advanced 29 cents to $41.80 per barrel in London. It settled at $41.51 per barrel the previous session.

The dollar gained to 109.91 yen from Thursday’s 109.85. The euro was little-changed at $1.1213.

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