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Asia stocks jump as hopes of coronavirus vaccine rise

Stocks in Asia jumped in Tuesday morning trade as hopes rise on a potential coronavirus vaccine after a positive development from a Moderna trial.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.67% in morning trade as shares of HSBC soared nearly 3%. Mainland Chinese stocks also edged higher, with the Shanghai composite up 0.53% while the Shenzhen composite gained 0.708%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.66% as shares of robot maker Fanuc soared more than 4%. The Topix index also gained 1.54%. South Korea’s Kospi also saw robust gains as it added 1.8%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.73%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 1.4% higher.

Investors watched for market reaction to overnight developments after Moderna reported “positive” phase one results for a potential coronavirus vaccine. The company said that after two doses all 45 trial participants had developed coronavirus antibodies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also said Monday that his country will provide $2 billion over two years to help other countries combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, minutes from the the Reserve Bank of Australia’s May monetary policy meeting released Tuesday showed that its Board “would not increase the cash rate target until progress is made towards full employment and it is confident that inflation will be sustainably within the 2-3 per cent target band.”

On the economic data front, Japan’s industrial production print for March is expected around 12:30 p.m. HK/SIN. That comes on the back of a Monday data release that shows the Japanese economy contracting at an annualized rate of 3.4% between January and March.

Overnight stateside, stocks on Wall Street surged amid the optimism for a coronavirus vaccine. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 911.95 points higher, or 3.9%, at 24,597.37. The S&P 500 gained 3.2% to finish its trading day at 2,953.91 while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.4% to close at 9,234.83. 

Oil prices were mixed in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures dipping 0.86% to $34.51 per barrel. U.S. crude futures, on the other hand, added 0.38% to $31.94 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.731 after falling from levels above 100 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.35 per dollar after weakening from levels below 107.2 seen yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6514, following its ascent from levels below $0.65 yesterday.

What’s on tap for Tuesday:

  • Japan: Industrial production for March at 12:30 p.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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