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Asian Shares Broadly Higher On Vaccine Optimism

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Asian stocks moved broadly highly on Wednesday amid optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine, although Chinese markets fell on rising U.S.-China tensions.

Biotech firm Moderna said its experimental vaccine for Covid-19, mRNA-1273, showed it was safe and produced strong immune responses in all 45 patients in an ongoing early-stage human trial.

Chinese stocks fell sharply after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an end to Hong Kong's special status under U.S. law, prompting a warning from China.

China's foreign ministry said in a statement Beijing will impose retaliatory sanctions against U.S. individuals and entities in response to a law targeting banks doing business with Chinese officials.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 53.31 points, or 1.6 percent, to 3,361.30, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended marginally higher.

Japanese shares hit a one-month high amid optimism about a coronavirus vaccine and as the Bank of Japan kept its current easing policies in place. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 358.49 points, or 1.6 percent, to 22,945.50, its highest close since June 10. The broader Topix closed 1.6 percent higher at 1,589.51.

Mining, steel and iron, and machinery stocks led the gainers. Exporters also ended broadly higher on a weaker yen. Honda Motor jumped 3.2 percent, Toyota Motor gained 1.4 percent, Nissan Motor soared 7.3 percent, Panasonic advanced 1.9 percent and Sony rallied 2.3 percent. Oil company Inpex surged 3.9 percent and Japan Petroleum added 2.3 percent.

Australian markets chased Wall Street higher as investors looked past a spike in Covid-19 cases to focus on progress towards a vaccine. Also helping underpin sentiment, the United Kingdom said on Tuesday the first round of trade talks with Australia had been "productive."

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rallied 111.80 points, or 1.9 percent, to 6,052.90 even as the second wave of infections pushed Australia's total case tally throughout the pandemic to more than 10,000. The broader All Ordinaries Index surged up 114.90 points, or 1.9 percent, to 6,160.40.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto jumped 2.5 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, on the back of higher iron ore prices. Firm bullion prices lifted gold miners, with Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources rising 2-3 percent.

Origin Energy advanced 1.6 percent after the company said it would book impairments of about A$1.2 billion ($840.12 million) after tax.

Afterpay added 2.4 percent after signing deals with Apple and Google that will allow more people to use its payment service online and in retail stores.

Meanwhile, Woodside Petroleum, the country's biggest independent gas producer, lost 2.2 percent after posting a 29 percent sequential drop in quarterly revenue.

Seoul stocks rose but ended off their day's highs amid rising tensions between the United States and China, South Korea's two largest trading partners. The benchmark Kospi climbed 18.27 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,201.88, ending above the 2,200-level for the first time in nearly five months.

New Zealand shares advanced, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index jumping 116.38 points, or 1 percent, to 11,610.52 on hopes of an effective Covid-19 vaccine. Vista Group International shares surged 4.2 percent, while Napier Port Holdings dropped 2.3 percent after reporting dismal quarterly trade volumes.

U.S. stocks posted strong gains overnight as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter and investors expressed hopes for more fiscal stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 2.1 percent and the S&P 500 gained 1.3 percent to reach one-month highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.9 percent.

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