Asian Shares Rise On Growth Optimism

Asian stocks rose broadly on Thursday on hopes that a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate will be a net positive for economic growth globally.

Chinese stocks extended gains for a sixth straight session after the country’s central bank pledged to keep its monetary policy accommodative in 2021, focusing on supporting small firms as the economy recovers.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 25.33 points, or 0.7 percent, to finish at 3,576.20, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended down 0.5 percent at 27,548.52.

Japanese shares hit a 30-year high as sharp rises in U.S. bond yields on expectations of additional U.S. stimulus spending boosted banks and insurers.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 434.19 points, or 1.6 percent, to 27,490.13, snapping a four-day losing streak. The broader Topix closed 1.7 percent higher at 1,826.30.

Insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings soared 7.4 percent, while lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial rose 3.5 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial added 5.5 percent. Steelmaker Nippon Steel surged 7.8 percent.

Meanwhile, SoftBank Group dropped 1.6 percent on news the Trump administration is considering adding Alibaba to a blacklist of Chinese companies. Softbank is the largest shareholder of the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Australian markets rallied as a Democrat sweep in U.S. Senate races lifted stimulus hopes. Closer to home, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the national cabinet will meet a month earlier than scheduled to discuss strengthening border processes amid the spread of a more contagious variant of Covid-19 that emerged in Britain.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 104.90 points, or 1.6 percent, to 6,712, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 99.10 points, or 1.4 percent, at 6,980.50.

Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos surged 5-7 percent as oil prices rose for a third day on data showing a bigger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and amid Saudi Arabia’s pledge to cut output.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto jumped 6.1 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, while the big four banks rose 2-4 percent.

Gold miners ended broadly lower after gold futures settled with a loss of more than 2 percent on Wednesday.

In economic news, a government report showed that Australia had a merchandise trade surplus of A$5.022 billion in November – shy of expectations for a surplus of A$6 billion and down from the downwardly revised A$6.583 billion in October.

Another report revealed the total number of building permits issued in the country rose a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent month-on-month in November.

Seoul stocks hit another record high amid strong foreign and institutional buying. The benchmark Kospi jumped 63.47 points, or 2.1 percent, to close about the 3,000-point mark for the first time on hopes of near-term fiscal stimulus under the Biden administration. SK Hynix and Samsung SDI both climbed around 2.7 percent, while LG Chem soared 8.1 percent.

New Zealand shares rose sharply, with the benchmark NZX 50 index ending up 151.74 points, or 1.1 percent, at 13,485.67, led by financials and utilities.

U.S. stocks ended mixed overnight as the results of the highly anticipated Georgia Senate runoff elections pointed to Democratic control of Congress, putting big tech antitrust laws back into focus.

The ADP employment report painted a bleak picture for the labor market, while minutes from the Fed’s meeting last month released later in the day showed FOMC members favored maintaining the current composition of purchases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.4 percent to reach a fresh record closing high and the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.6 percent.

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