Asia-Pacific stocks edge higher as investors watch U.S. coronavirus stimulus talks

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific rose in Wednesday morning trade as investors continue to watch for developments on U.S. coronavirus stimulus.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 added 0.36% in early trade while the Topix index gained 0.94%. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.35%.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia edged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.19%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.11% higher.

Shares of Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong will be watched after the company on Wednesday announced that about 5,900 employees will be laid off as part of a restructuring plan. The airline’s subsidiary Cathay Dragon will also cease to operate with effect from today.

Investor focus on Wednesday will likely be on stimulus negotiations stateside. The Trump administration and Democrats made progress in negotiations on Tuesday but major differences remain, according to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“Even if a deal is not agreed to before November, there are high hopes there will be a package after the election,” Tapas Strickland, director of economics at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

On the coronavirus vaccine front, Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel expects interim results from the firm’s Covid-19 vaccine trial in November, according to The Wall Street Journal. Bancel also told the Journal that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could issue an emergency use authorization before the end of the year.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 113.37 points higher, or 0.4%, at 28,308.79. The  S&P 500 advanced 0.5% to end its trading day at 3,443.12 while the Nasdaq Composite edged 0.3% higher to close at 11,516.49.


The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 93.05 following its decline earlier this week from levels above 93.6.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.44 per dollar after spiking to levels above 105.6 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.705, having declined from levels above $0.707 earlier this week.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.58% to $42.91 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 0.72% to $41.40 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Terri Cullen contributed to this report.

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