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Asian Stocks Up, Investors Keeping an Eye on Rising COVID-19 Cases and U.S.-China Tension

Stock MarketsJun 18, 2020 11:25PM ET
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By Gina Lee

Investing.com – Asian stocks were mostly up on Friday, with investors continuing to monitor rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in China and the U.S., alongside an uptick in U.S.-China tensions.

Beijing announced 25 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases linked to a weekend outbreak at the Xinfadi market to almost 200.

But Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a press briefing on the same day that the Xinfadi outbreak “has been brought under control”, but added that “when I say that it’s under control, that doesn’t mean the number of cases will turn zero tomorrow or the day after.”

Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, said in a note, "Despite an unrelenting climb in COVID infections across (Latin America), South Asia and second wave risks hanging over US and China, global markets have regained traction; optimism even...[the] markets’ resilience is best explained by the ‘hall of mirrors’ belief; where bets are that the Fed be cornered into easing effusively for the fear of disappointing markets...simply put, markets view pandemic risks as passé, relegating them to the backseat (and rear-view mirror) as they look for an upturn ahead."

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.33% by 11 PM ET (4 AM GMT) and South Korea’s KOSPI was down 0.37%.

Down Under, the ASX 200 gained 1.11%, gaining a boost after the Bureau of Statistics announced a record 16.3% surge in retail turnover for May month-on-month, which almost reverses April’s record 17.7% fall.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.09%.

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.50% and the Shenzhen Component was up 1.07%.

Meanwhile, investors were also watching the simmering tensions between the U.S. and China after President Donald Trump did not exclude the possibility of a “complete decoupling from China” via a tweet earlier in the day. Trump’s tweet was in response to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s comment a day earlier that such a measure was not “a reasonable policy option.”

Trump's tweet comes a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Hawaii. The meeting showed that the two sides are eager to prevent a further souring of ties, but still need to work through their disagreement over several issues, including China's national security laws for Hong Kong and Macau.

Asian Stocks Up, Investors Keeping an Eye on Rising COVID-19 Cases and U.S.-China Tension
 

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