Asian Shares Rise As Experts Talk Down Omicron Risks

Asian stocks advanced on Tuesday after experts said the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus would not be as dangerous as Delta.

Chinese shares ended slightly higher after the People’s Bank of China released about 1.2 trillion yuan ($188 billion) of liquidity into the financial system via a cut in the reserve requirement ratio for most banks.

The upside remained capped by lingering concerns over a crisis in the country’s property sector, with reports suggesting that some offshore bondholders of China Evergrande Group did not receive coupon payments by the end of a 30-day grace period last night.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up 5.78 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,595.09, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up 634.28 points, or 2.7 percent, to 23,983.66. Alibaba Group shares spiked 12.2 percent after the company announced a management shakeup.

China’s exports grew more than expected in November, data from the General Administration of Customs showed earlier today. Exports grew 22 percent on a yearly basis in November, which was bigger than the economists’ forecast of 19 percent.

Likewise, imports advanced 31.7 percent from the last year. Economists had forecast an annual increase of 19.8 percent.

Japanese shares rose the most in over a month as easing Omicron worries helped travel-related stocks rebound. Investors shrugged off data showing that Japan’s household spending fell for the third straight month in October.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 528.23 points, or 1.9 percent, to 28,455.60, marking its biggest percentage gain since November 1. The broader Topix closed 2.2 percent higher at 1,989.85.

Japan Airlines, West Japan Railway, Open Door and Airtrip soared 5-8 percent following optimistic comments from a top U.S. official on the latest coronavirus variant. SoftBank Group jumped 7.9 percent on bargain hunting after a recent string of losses.

Australian markets advanced after the country’s central bank left its key interest rate and bond purchase program unchanged but adjusted its policy statement to allow for a possible increase before 2023.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 68.80 points, or 1 percent, to 7,313.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 76.20 points, or 1 percent, at 7,605.20.

Energy and travel-related stocks topped the gainers list as oil prices soared overnight and Omicron fears somewhat subsided. Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search rallied 3.5 percent after shareholders gave the green light for its merger with fellow petroleum and gas company Santos.

Seoul stocks rose for the fifth straight session, with tech and auto shares rising on hopes that the Omicron coronavirus variant may be mild.

The Kospi gained 18.47 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 2,991.72, marking the highest level since November 24. Tech heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix climbed 1.4 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

Samsung Electronics said today it would merge its mobile and consumer electronics divisions and named new co-CEOs in its biggest reshuffle since 2017 to simplify its structure and focus on growing its logic chip business.

New Zealand shares gave up early gains to end on a flat note. Sky Network Television soared 17.7 percent after its improved profit forecast, while heavyweight Fisher & Paykel Healthcare dropped 1.3 percent.

U.S. stocks showed a strong move to the upside overnight on hopes that the newest Covid-19 variant will prove less virulent than earlier strains.

The Dow surged 1.9 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.2 percent.

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