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Asian Stock Markets Forge Ahead in Earnings Season, Recovery Hopes

· 02/08/2021 01:00

05:43 AM EST, 02/08/2021 (MT Newswires) -- Asian stock markets Monday generally gained as traders weighed the unfolding earnings season and prospects for a global recovery in 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic is quelled. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo all finished in the green, while Mumbai's Sensex struck a fresh all-time zenith.

in Japan, the Nikkei 225 opened higher and gained through the afternoon, finishing up 2.1% as traders weighed a strong earnings season and a softer yen, the latter regarded as a positive in export-oriented Japan.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 609.31 to 29,388.50, topping the 29,000 milestone for the first time since 1990, as gaining issues outnumbered losers 197 to 27.

Leading the upside was Kobe Steel (KBSTY, 5406:Tokyo), up 17.55 after issuing earnings and improved profit outlook.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange REIT Index rose 1.6% on the day.

In economic news, Japan's Economy Watchers Survey index, which measures the business situation as seen by front-line retail and service-sector workers, decreased to 31.2 in January from 34.3 in December, the official Cabinet Office reported on Monday. Readings below 50 indicate respondents report a shrinking business scene.

As recently as October the Economy Watchers index had posted at 53.0, indicating a growing services-industry as seen by taxi-drivers, restaurant workers, tourism-industry staffers and others. But Japan was hit by a third, and by far largest, wave of COVID-19 infections In December and January, which has cut consumer spending and provoked authorities to implement pandemic-fighting business restrictions.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index opened with strong gains on Wall Street cues but lost traction during the day, to finish up a scant 0.1%, as traders weighed the pending suspension of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect. Beginning on Tuesday and extending through Feb. 17, trading links between Hong Kong and Shanghai will be closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, meaning mainland investors will not be sending money to acquire Hong Kong-listed stocks for the duration.

The broad gauge Hang Seng rose 30.79 to 29,319.47, although losing issues outnumbered gainers 25 to 23.

The Hang Seng TECH Index fell back 0.4% on the day.

On the mainland, the Shanghai composite rose 1.0% to 3,532.45.

In economic news, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, mainland China's China's outward direct investment rose in 2020 by 3.3% over 2019 to $132.9 billion, according to accounting giant E&Y, reported the Global Times, a state newspaper.

On the other exchanges, the S. Korean Kospi fell 0.9%; the Taiwan TWSE inclined 0.6%; the Australian ASX 200 inclined 0.6%; the Singapore Straits Times Index rose 0.8%, and the Thai Set inclined 1.3%. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was up 1.2%.