Asian Shares Erase Earlier Gains as Investors Shrug Off Ultra-Dovish Fed
The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mostly lower on Thursday after giving up earlier gains despite the promise of ultra-easy monetary policy globally as the U.S. Federal Reserve pledged to support the country’s virus-battered economy, though record-shattering COVID-19 cases tempered gains.
Fed Policy Announcements Set Early Bullish Tone
On Wednesday, all Fed members voted as expected to leave the target range for short-term rates between 0% and 0.25%, where it has been since March 15 when the virus was beginning to hit the nation.
The unchanged policy setting together with a pledge the Fed would use its “full range of tools” if needed boosted risk appetite overnight with all three Wall Street Indexes finishing firmer.
On Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22339.23, down 57.88 or -0.26%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is trading 24757.95, down 125.19 or -0.50% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2267.01, up 3.85 or +0.17%.
China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3286.82, down 7.73 or -0.23% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 6051.10, up 44.70 or +0.74%.
Australian Stocks Rally Despite Growing Number of Coronavirus Cases
The Australian share market ended Thursday’s trading session higher; shaking off earlier fears a second national coronavirus wave could dent Australia’s economic recovery. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was led higher by strong gains in technology and consumer staples stocks.
Stocks rallied despite the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting a month-on-month decline of 4.9 percent in dwelling approvals for June, the largest monthly decline in eight years.
ALS Limited had the largest daily increase with its shares rising 6.5 percent to $8.83 per share, while IOOF Holdings sustained the largest decline, with its shares dropping 7.8 percent to $4.86 each.
In other news, Australia reported a record spike in fresh COVID-19 cases with at least 13 deaths and more than 700 new infections mainly in Victoria State.
Japan Shares End Lower as Virus Spike Hits Capital
Tokyo stocks closed lower on Thursday, with investors rattled by reports the city will ask restaurants and bars to shorten opening hours as coronavirus cases spike in the capital.
Tokyo is expected to hit a record 367 new cases on Thursday, local reports said, about two months after the central government lifted a state of emergency.
Trading was thin with many players sidelined ahead of earnings reports by U.S. tech heavyweights Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet on Thursday.
On the economic front, Japanese retail sales for June declined 1.2% as compared to a year ago, according to a preliminary report by the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. That compared against a median market forecast for a 6.5% year-on-year decline, according to Reuters.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.