Asian stocks advance after Wall Street hits new record

A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), right, and the foreign exchange rate at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 12, 2021. Asian stock markets rose Monday after Wall Street hit a high despite jitters about the spread of the coronavirus's delta variant as investors looked ahead to U.S. earnings reports. - AP

BEIJING, July 12 (AP): Asian stock markets rose Monday after Wall Street hit a high despite jitters about the spread of the coronavirus's delta variant, as investors looked ahead to US earnings reports.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

On Friday, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index ended up 0.4% for the week.

"Wall Street shrugged off ‘delta variant’ concerns,” said Mizuho Bank in a report. "Futures suggest that the optimism will spill over into Asia’s equity trading session.”

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8% to 3,549.80 after the Chinese central bank on Friday reduced the level of reserves commercial banks must hold, freeing up money for lending. That came after forecasters saw signs China’s economic rebound might be weakening.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo surged 2.2% to 28,554.56 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.6% to 27,495.07.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 1% to 3,249.36 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.7% to 7,326.10.

India's Sensex opened up 0.6% at 52,674.18. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also advanced.

On Friday, the S&P 500 index rose 1.1% to a record 4,369.55, rebounding from the previous day's loss.

About 90% of the stocks in the S&P 500 closed higher. Banks, technology companies and industrial stocks powered much of the rally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.3% to a record 34,870.1. The Nasdaq composite added 1% to 14,701.92.

Investors have swung between optimism about economic recovery and unease about the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Over the weekend, the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, told investors to prepare for new guidance on monetary policy after the bank’s July 22 meeting. But she gave no indication whether the bank would start winding down stimulus.

The Federal Reserve jolted investors earlier by moving up the possible start of interest rate hikes to late 2023 from the following year. It said its board members have started to discuss when and how to wind down bond purchases that inject money into capital markets.

This week, U.S. banks are due to report earnings as major companies start announcing quarterly results. Analysts expect another strong quarter for Wall Street, due to the improving economy and fewer Americans defaulting on loans.

Benchmark US crude lost 18 cents to $74.38 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.62 on Friday to $74.56. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 21 cents to $75.34. It advanced $1.43 the previous session to $75.55.

The dollar held steady at 110.17 yen. The euro declined to $1.1870 from $1.1875. - AP
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