Asian markets rise as Japan reports better business sentiment

Asian markets rise as Japan reports better business sentiment

Stocks up in Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul

Shares rose early Monday in Asia, shrugging off a weak close last week on Wall Street after Japan’s central bank reported a strong improvement in business sentiment.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.30% climbed 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index HSI, -0.44% was little changed, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.66% edged up 0.4% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, +1.07% rose 0.6%. South Korea’s Kospi 180721, -0.28% advanced 0.2% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.26% rose 0.6%. Benchmark indexes in Singapore STI, +1.29% and Indonesia JAKIDX, +1.25% rose, while stocks fell in Taiwan Y9999, -0.36%.

The quarterly “tankan” survey by the Bank of Japan showed business sentiment has improved sharply with expectations for a recovery from a year-long recession.

The main measure of business conditions of large manufacturers rose to minus 10 from minus 27. It showed rebounds in all categories, both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing companies, large and small. It was a marked improvement from the past several quarterly reports as Japan battled the coronavirus pandemic.

The tankan measures corporate sentiment by subtracting the number of companies saying business conditions are negative from those responding they are positive.

U.S. markets ended last week on a downbeat note. Benchmarks pulled further away from their recent highs Friday as prospects for another aid package from Washington faded while a surge in virus cases is threatening to inflict more damage on an already battered economy.

The proposed $900 billion aid package from a bipartisan group of lawmakers has essentially collapsed because of continued partisan bickering.

But President Donald Trump signed a temporary government-wide funding bill into law, averting a federal shutdown at midnight and buying Congress time for the on-again, off-again talks on COVID-19 aid.

“Given these talks have been running since July, the market may be bored to tears, but if the stimulus door slam shut before Christmas, it could still change the positive vaccine mood music,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary.

The S&P 500 SPX, -0.13% on Friday slipped 0.1% to 3,663.46, its third-straight decline since it set a record high on Tuesday. It ended the week 1% lower after two weeks of solid gains.

Treasury yields fell broadly, a signal that traders were seeking to lessen their exposure to riskier holdings. On Monday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 0.90%, up from 0.89% on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.16% got a boost Friday from Disney DIS, +13.59%, which hit a new high after giving investors an encouraging update on subscriber growth and future plans for its Disney Plus streaming service. The index rose 0.2%, to 30,046.37. The tech-heavy Nasdaq COMP, -0.23% lost 0.2% to 12,377.87.

Investors are watching for updates on the rollout of coronavirus vaccines that might help beat back surging infections that threaten to derail recoveries from business shutdowns and other pandemic-related shocks.

The first of many freezer-packed COVID-19 vaccine vials made their way to distribution sites across the United States on Sunday, as the nation’s pandemic deaths approached the horrifying new milestone of 300,000.

Widespread vaccination will take months and the virus pandemic is prompting tighter restrictions on businesses. An already slow economic recovery appears to be stalling in the wake of the latest surge and unemployment is rising.

Wall Street is also waiting for a special election in Georgia in early January, which could potentially switch the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil CLF21, 1.20% gained 13 cents to $46.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 11 cents to $46.57 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude BRNG21, 1.28%, the international standard, picked up 16 cents to $50.13 per barrel.

The dollar USDJPY, -0.23% weakened to 103.98 Japanese yen from 104.93 yen late Friday.

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