Asia’s major stock markets edged ahead on Tuesday – pulled along by surging energy shares and firming oil prices after China relaxed some of its Covid restrictions for travellers.
China’s decision to ease some quarantine requirements for international arrivals raised hopes for a revival in demand for commodities, but the gains were capped by ongoing uncertainty over global growth and rate hikes.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares rose 0.3%, with Tokyo rallying, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng reversing earlier losses and China’s CSI 300 Index gaining. China’s tourism stocks gained over 5.5%.
Japan’s Nikkei share average closed above the psychologically important 27,000 level for the first time in two weeks, as energy shares surged.
The Nikkei climbed 0.66% to close at 27,049.47, near the high for the day. That extended its winning run to four straight sessions. The broader Topix jumped 1.06% to 1,907.38.
The Nikkei’s best performing sector was energy, up 3.8%, after crude prices rebounded. Tokyo Electric Power Company was the Nikkei’s biggest percentage riser, gaining 7.21% amid a heatwave in the Japanese capital that’s also set to strain energy supplies. Oil company Inpex was another top performer, up 4.88%.
But the looming shadow of global tightening in the face of soaring inflation limited any gains.
“At the end of this month and the beginning of next month, there are a lot of important economic indicators due, so it is natural to be cautious about chasing equities higher,” a trader at a domestic securities firm said.
Beijing Slashes Quarantine Time
Chinese stocks also traded early losses for decent gains and the Hang Seng Index gained 0.85%, or 189.45 points, to 22,418.97. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.89%, or 30.02 points, to 3,409.21 and the CSI 300 Index gained over 1%.
Stocks elsewhere across Asia were mixed, with markets in the Philippines and South Korea rising 1.7% and 0.8%, respectively, while those in Singapore lost 0.1%.
Indian stocks were flat with Mumbai’s signature Nifty 50 index up just 0.03%, or 3.90 points, at 15,835.95.
Globally, shares moved into positive territory boosted by China’s decision to ease some quarantine rules for international arrivals.
Beijing slashed the quarantine time for inbound travellers by half in a major easing of one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 curbs, which have deterred travel in and out of the country since 2020.
“This is a good step forward,” Hani Redha, a multi-asset portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments, said. “It’s not enough to lead to a very robust recovery, but it’s definitely going to be positive incrementally.”
Dollar Index Flat
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was little changed at 103.97.
Oil prices swung higher after China eased quarantine rules, with focus already on tight supply as G7 leaders agreed to study placing price caps on imports of Russian oil and gas.
US crude rose 1.41% to $111.08 a barrel. Brent crude jumped 1.3% to $116.59 per barrel.
Gold was 0.2% higher with the spot price trading at $1,827 per ounce. Bitcoin rose 0.8%, trading at $20,870 after falling as low as $17,588.88 earlier this month.
Key market figures
Tokyo – Nikkei 225 > UP 0.66% at 27,049.47 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index > UP 0.85% at 22,418.97 (close)
Shanghai – Composite > UP 0.89% at 3,409.21 (close)
New York – Dow < DOWN 0.20% at 31,438.26 (Monday close)
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara