Stocks in Asia Pacific mostly edged higher Wednesday morning as the coronavirus situation stateside continues to be watched, with White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warning Tuesday that parts of the U.S. are beginning to see a “disturbing surge” of Covid-19 cases.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.25% while the Topix index shed 0.15%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi rose 0.88%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.35%.
Overall, the MSCI Asia-ex Japan index traded 0.19% higher.
In a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fauci said he is “quite concerned” about the rise in coronavirus cases in states that “reflect an increase in community spread.” He did also say, however, that states with growing coronavirus outbreaks may not need to do an “absolute shutdown.”
More than 2 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in the US, but for now markets are having trouble with the implications given the high bar to re-imposing restrictions,” Tapas Strickland, director of economics at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan said: “It is still unclear when the spread of COVID-19 will subside on a global basis, as the spread is continuing in emerging economies in particular. It seems inevitable that the negative impact on the global economy, including Japan, will become prolonged without effective vaccines and medicines.”
“Due to expectations for the future, prices in financial markets have been high compared with the current severe situation of the real economy. It is necessary to closely monitor future developments in the markets to see whether there will be a correction in asset prices,” the BoJ said.
Overnight stateside, the Nasdaq Composite rose to a fresh record on Tuesday as it closed 0.7% higher at 10,131.37. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 131.14 points, or 0.5%, to finish its trading day at 26,156.10. The S&P 500 closed 0.4% higher at 3,131.29.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.649 after dropping from levels above 97 seen earlier.
The Japanese yen traded at 106.47 per dollar after strengthening sharply from levels above 107 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6953 after seeing an earlier low of $0.6923.
Oil prices edged lower in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.3% to $42.50 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also shed 0.4% to $40.21 per barrel.
What’s on tap on Wednesday: