Asian Shares Follow Wall Street Higher

marketopen 011519 08dec21 lt

Asian stocks ended mostly higher on Wednesday following big gains on Wall Street overnight amid easing fears surrounding the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Chinese stocks settled higher as Beijing's recent easing signals helped investors shrug off property woes, with Kaisa and Evergrande becoming the most visible faces of the debt crunch.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 42.48 points, or 1.2 percent, to 3,637.57, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished marginally higher at 23,996.87 after a volatile session.

Trading in shares of embattled Chinese developer Kaisa Group Holdings was suspended, prompting fresh concerns about potential defaults.

Japanese shares ended sharply higher as gains in technology shares following an overnight climb of their U.S. counterparts helped offset data showing that Japan's economy shrank slightly faster than initially reported in the third quarter amid a summer surge in Covid-19 cases that triggered emergency restrictions.

The Nikkei 225 Index surged 405.02 points, or 1.4 percent, to finish at 28,860.62, while the broader Topix closed 0.6 percent higher at 2,002.24. Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Fanuc shot up 2-4 percent. Fast Retailing, the operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, added 1.3 percent.

Australian markets notched their best session in more than 2 months as virus fear eased. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 91.50 points, or 1.3 percent, to 7,405.40, marking the best session since October 4. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 102 points, or 1.3 percent, at 7,707.20.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose about 2 percent each and smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group added 3.3 percent, as iron ore prices jumped amid easing monetary policy in leading consumer China.

Firmer oil prices lifted energy stocks, with Oil Search, Santos and Woodside Petroleum all rising over 2 percent. Tech shares followed their U.S. peers higher, with Zip Co. climbing nearly 11 percent to hit a two-week high.

Seoul stocks extended gains for the sixth straight session, though markets ended well off their day's highs after a record jump in domestic Covid-10 cases. The Kospi ended the session up 10.08 points, or 0.3 percent, at 3,001.80, marking the highest close since November 22.

Chip giant Samsung Electronics ended on a flat note after having hit a four-month high earlier in the session. LG Chem soared 5.6 percent and Samsung Biologics rallied 4.2 percent.

New Zealand share rallied as Sky TV Network shares extended gains from the previous after an earnings upgrade. Shares of the pay TV operator soared a further 14.6 percent following a 17 percent gain on Tuesday. The benchmark NZX-50 Index jumped 258.44 points, or 2.1 percent, to 12,868.32.

U.S. stocks staged the biggest rally in nine months overnight and Treasuries fell amid optimism that the Omicron strain won't derail global growth.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared 3 percent, while the Dow climbed 1.4 percent and the S&P 500 surged 2.1 percent.

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