Asian shares rise amid hopes for global economic rebound

Finance and Business

An employee of a bank walks by screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Asian shares mostly fell Thursday as caution set in over company earnings reports, recent choppy trading in technology stocks and prospects for more economic stimulus for a world battling a pandemic. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose Friday, echoing a rally on Wall Street, as hopes grew for a gradual global economic recovery from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 1.2% in morning trading to 28,686.62. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9% to 6,828.70, and South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.4% to 3,100.46. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.1% to 29,441.67, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.8% to 3,531.19.

Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in Singapore said Asian markets are getting a lift from positive employment data from the U.S., which has set off a mood of “confidence about the U.S. economy getting back on its feet.”

What appears in global data as the gradual decline in COVID-19 cases is also nurturing hopes for a rebound. So are rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines, Lavanya said.

Wall Street was cheered by strong company earnings and optimism that Washington can reach a deal for another round of fiscal stimulus for millions of Americans.

The S&P 500 index rose 1.1% to 3,871.74. It was the index’s fourth-straight gain. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 1.1%, to 31,055.86. The technology-heavy Nasdaq gained 1.2%, to 13,777.74, also an all-time high. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks climbed 2%, to 2,202.42.

Financial and technology companies led the way. Small-company stocks also had a strong showing, another bullish signal that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy.

“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic and, obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of stimulus in the system with talks of more,” Brian Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network.

Wall Street continues to be focused on company earnings. Shares of eBay rose 5.3% and PayPal climbed 7.4% after both companies reported results that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

“We’re really impressed with how corporate America has come through earnings season so far,” said Jeff Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial.

In Washington, President Joe Biden urged Democrats lawmakers to “act fast” on his economic stimulus plan but also said he’s open to changes. Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, but investors are betting that the administration will opt for a reconciliation process to get the legislation through Congress.

In economic data, the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell below 800,000 last week, which was better than economist expectations but still remains high due to the pandemic. The Labor Department is due to report its jobs data for January on Friday.

In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude added 39 cents to $56.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 54 cents to $56.23 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 38 cents to $59.22 a barrel.

In currencies, the U.S. dollar was trading at 105.55 Japanese yen, up from 105.54 yen. The euro cost $1.1958, down from $1.1967.

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AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

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