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Asian Shares Rise Ahead Of Yellen Testimony

stockmarkets jan17 19jan21 lt

Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Tuesday as optimism about vaccine rollouts and government stimulus offset concerns over the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.

Investors looked to comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen on U.S. stimulus at the Senate confirmation hearing later today, with her prepared remarks calling on the federal government to "act big."

Chinese shares fell notably as mainland investors shifted assets from China to Hong Kong-listed shares. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 29.84 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,566.38, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 779.51 points, or 2.7 percent, to 29,642.28.

Japanese shares gained ground as bargain hunting emerged after two days of profit taking. The Nikkei 225 Index rallied 391.25 points, or 1.4 percent, to 28,633.46 as investors watched headlines linked to the country's vaccination schedule. The broader Topix closed 0.6 percent higher at 1,855.84.

Chip-related shares were in demand, with Tokyo Electron rising 2.1 percent and Advantest surging 4.2 percent. Automaker Nissan Motor added 3.9 percent, Honda Motor advanced 1.7 percent and tire maker Bridgestone climbed 3.3 percent.

Australian markets posted strong gains, with miners and financials leading the surge. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 79.60 points, or 1.2 percent, to 6,742.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 79.60 points, or 1.2 percent, at 7,015.

Waste management firm Bingo Industries soared over 20 percent after it received a A$2.29 billion ($1.8 billion) cash buyout offer from a private equity group.

Rio Tinto gained 0.7 percent after releasing fourth-quarter production results. Rival BHP rose 0.9 percent after data showed China's industrial activity roared back to pre-pandemic growth rates in the fourth quarter.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac rose between 1.6 percent and 1.9 percent, as the country recorded zero local Covid-19 cases for another day.

Seoul stocks rallied as institutional investors lapped up auto-related shares on expectations of improved earnings. The benchmark Kospi jumped 78.73 points, or 2.6 percent, to finish at 3,092.66, after having lost more than 4 percent in the previous two sessions.

Hyundai Motor shares soared 8.5 percent, while its affiliate Ki Motors jumped 16.6 percent. Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis advanced 6.7 percent.

New Zealand shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending up 42.95 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,881.31.

Overnight, the U.S. markets were closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

European stocks closed mostly higher on Monday as investors digested a slew of earnings and strong economic data from China.

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