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Asian Shares Move Mostly Higher In Cautious Trading

stockmarkets dec24 27nov20 lt

Asian stocks fluctuated before finishing mostly higher on Friday after questions were raised about the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and the British pharmaceutical giant said it would likely run a new global trial.

Some experts said the concerns could affect the chances of the vaccine getting speedy U.S. and EU regulatory approval.

Chinese shares rallied after official data showed the country's industrial profits expanded strongly in October. Industrial profits advanced 28.2 percent on a yearly basis in October, marking the sixth consecutive rise in profits as the economy showed signals of a robust rebound from the coronavirus-driven downturn.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 38.57 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,408.31, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended up 75.23 points, or 0.28 percent, at 26,894.68.

Japanese shares rose for the fourth straight session and ended at over a 29-1/2-year high on hopes of an economic recovery and strong corporate earnings in the next financial year.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 107.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,644.71, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at a 25-month high of 1,786.52.

Ballpark operator Tokyo Dome Corp. surged 16.7 percent as it considers a takeover bid by property developer Mitsui Fudosan. Shares of the latter advanced 1.9 percent.

Automakers fell broadly, with Nissan Motor losing nearly 2 percent as the yen rose against the dollar on doubts over AstraZeneca's vaccine efficacy.

Lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial fell 1.7 percent and rival Sumitomo Mitsui Financial gave up 1.4 percent.

Australian markets ended lower as doubts over recent coronavirus vaccine trials overshadowed news that Victoria, previously the country's coronavirus hotbed, is now Covid free.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 35.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,601.10, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 32 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,816.80.

Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search ended down between 1.5 percent and 3.7 percent as oil prices fell on oversupply concerns.

Banks ended with modest losses, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell 1.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Seoul stocks swung between gains and losses before closing higher as the daily virus tally hovered above 500 for the second straight day and the country's prime minister urged the public to stay home this weekend. The benchmark Kospi inched up 7.54 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,633.45.

New Zealand shares fluctuated before finishing modestly higher, led by healthcare companies and utilities. The benchmark NZX-50 Index ended up 37.81 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,639.83.

New Zealand's trade surplus for the year ended October increased to a 28-year high of NZ$2.19 billion as imports declined faster than exports, data released by Statistics New Zealand revealed.

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