Vehicles are reflected in a window while electronic signs display stock information at the Australian Stock Exchange, which is operated by ASX.
Lisa Maree | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – The Asia-Pacific markets struggled for gains by Monday afternoon as investors responded to last week’s US job report that raised expectations and sparked hopes for a faster economic recovery.
Australian equities closed the session in green, but made the most of their previous gains. The ASX 200 benchmark rose 0.43% to 6,739.60 as most sectors traded higher, with the heavily weighted financial sub-index adding 0.5%. Major banking and mining stocks rose the most: Commonwealth Bank shares rose 1.01%, while Rio Tinto rose 2.91%, Fortescue rose 0.5% and BHP rose 2.38%.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 reversed gains to close 0.42% at 28,743.25 as bank shares advanced. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group’s shares rose 2.83%, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group added 2.14% and Nomura shares rose 3.17%. Elsewhere, the Topix index also gave up earlier gains, ending 0.14% lower at 1,893.58.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 1% to 2,996.11. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 1.85% in late afternoon trading, while the Hang Seng Tech Index fell 6.69%.
Chinese mainland shares also fell: the Shanghai composition fell 2.3% to 3,4211.41, while the Shenzhen component lost 3.81% to 13,863.81. Elsewhere, equities in India and Singapore rose in afternoon trading.
Monday’s session in Asia-Pacific follows a wild day in US markets last Friday, when shares screamed of a sharp sell-off as a stronger-than-expected non-farming report improves optimism for a faster economic recovery .
“Investors remain wary of the impact the massive Biden fiscal experiment will have on longer-term interest rates, which will provide a fragile equity environment,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note. “The defense can rule until mid-March (Federal Market Committee).”
US emergency package
The U.S. Senate this weekend approved a $ 1.9 billion coronavirus relief package that includes direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to most Americans. The bill is expected to be passed in the Democratic House this week and sent to President Joe Biden for his signature before a March 14 deadline to renew unemployment benefits.
Last month, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers that the U.S. economy is far from its employment and inflation targets and that it is likely to take time before significant further progress is made. He said inflation was still “soft” and that the Fed was committed to current policies, implying that interest rates were likely to remain low at present.