Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Asian shares rose Wednesday on optimism that China's latest actions may help curtail some of the expected economic damage from the virus outbreak. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Asian shares rise, Europe falls after China moves on virus

February 05, 2020 - 2:36 am

TOKYO (AP) — European indexes were slipping in early trading Wednesday after Asian shares rose on optimism that China's latest actions may help curtail some of the expected economic damage from the virus outbreak.

France's CAC 40 slipped 0.3% to 5,916.83 in early trading, while Germany's DAX lost 0.3% to 13,247.33. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.3% to 7,421.30. U.S. shares were set to drift lower with Dow futures down 0.2% at 28,722. S&P 500 futures were also down 0.2% at 3,291.90.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.0% to finish at 23,319.56. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4% to 6,976.10. South Korea's Kospi was up 0.4% at 2,165.63. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.3% to 26,754.04, while the Shanghai Composite gained 1.3% to 2,818.09.

“Risk sentiment remains on the mend, setting Asia markets up for intraday gains. Although this remains the ebb and flow around an issue such as the coronavirus with the impact still under assessment," said Jingyi Pang, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

The gains reflected a broad rally on Wall Street overnight that drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 400 points higher and gave the S&P 500 its best day in more than five months.

The gains also pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq to an all-time high and added to a solid start to February for the broader market after a downbeat January.

Investors welcomed a decision by China’s central bank to inject $57 billion into its markets. The move is the latest step by Beijing to soften the financial blow of the recent virus outbreak. Worries about the potential global economic impact of a protracted outbreak rattled markets in recent weeks, erasing the S&P 500’s gains last month.

Apple and Microsoft were among the tech-sector standouts. Like other major technology companies, they rely heavily on doing business with China. Health care, industrial, financial stocks also notched solid gains.

China’s latest measure to shore up its markets follows an announcement from Monday that the government would put $173 billion into its markets as they reopened from an extended break.

The world’s second-largest economy is in lockdown that is threatening economic growth there and globally. More companies, including Sony, are warning investors of a potential hit to revenue and profit because of the virus. More than 20,000 cases have been confirmed globally, along with over 400 deaths. The cases have been mostly in China.

Rising expectations of further rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve may have also helped lift stocks. Investors now foresee an overwhelming likelihood of at least one Fed rate cut this year, with nearly half expecting two cuts, according to data from CME Group.

The Fed has recently indicated that it’s comfortable with rates at their current level. But traders seem to expect that economic anxiety and damage resulting from China’s viral outbreak will lead the Fed to further ease borrowing rates.

ENERGY:

Benchmark crude oil rose 14 cents to $49.75 a barrel. It fell 50 cents to settle at $49.61 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 20 cents to $54.16 a barrel.

CURRENCIES:

The dollar rose to 109.35 Japanese yen from 109.07 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1038 from $1.1053.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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