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James Hyerczyk

The major Asia-Pacific stocks indexes finished mixed but mostly higher on Wednesday as caution remained over a recent resurgence in coronavirus cases in certain countries regionally as they start to reopen their economies.

Public health experts – including those at the World Health Organization (WHO) – have warned countries against lifting containment measures too early, which could cause a rebound in new coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 20267.05, down 99.43 or -0.49%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 24180.30, down 65.38 or -0.27% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 1940.42, up 18.25 or +0.95%

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2898.05, up 6.49 or +0.22%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5421.90, up 18.90 or +0.35%.

Japanese Stocks Follow Wall Street Lower

Japanese shares dipped further from a two-month high on Wednesday, tracking overnight losses on Wall Street on fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections, while some profit-taking also weighed on the market.

Wall Street’s three major stock indexes dropped about 2% each on Tuesday following a warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, that premature moves to reopen the economy could lead to a second wave of cases and set back economic recovery.

Traders also said some profit-taking was inevitable sooner or later because of the recent rally. On Monday, both the Nikkei and the Topix climbed to their highest levels since March 6.

Investors also kept a watch on simmering U.S.-China tensions after a leading U.S. Republican senator proposed legislation that would authorize President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China if it fails to give a full account of events leading to the virus outbreak.

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China Stocks End Higher as Healthcare Firms Gain

Chinese shares closed higher on Wednesday, reversing course from small losses as a rally in healthcare stocks boosted the index, although gains were capped due to persisting concerns around a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Investors remain concerned about the risk of the renewed spread of the new coronavirus after the northeast Chinese city of Jilin said it would impose fresh restrictions on travel to contain the outbreak, with six new cases reported on Tuesday.

That came after Chinese health authorities on Tuesday called for vigilance to be maintained against the novel coronavirus as new clusters emerge, even though the peak of the epidemic has passed in the country where it first appeared.

Australian Shares Nudge Higher on Hopes of Quick Recovery

Australian shares reversed course to close higher on Wednesday, as heavyweight Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s shares rose after news of the sale of its wealth management business and coronavirus provisions being broadly in line with peers.

Market sentiment also recouped on hopes on a gradual reopening of the local economy and effective management of new virus clusters in the short-term. Data showed on Wednesday a measure of consumer sentiment jumped a record 16.4 percent in May from April, raising hopes of a relatively quick revival in spending.

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