Asian Markets in Positive Territory Amid Coronavirus Treatment Hopes

Currency Hedger Trading Desk April 30, 2020




Asian stock markets are higher on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session as promising trial results of Gilead Sciences' potential coronavirus treatment remdesivir boosted investor sentiment.


Gilead Sciences cited positive data emerging from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' study of its investigational antiviral remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. The company said the trial met its primary endpoint and that NIAID will provide detailed information at an upcoming briefing.


Gilead Sciences also announced positive data from a phase 3 trial evaluating 5-day and 10-day dosing durations of Remdesivir in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 infection with evidence of pneumonia and reduced oxygen levels.


The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session as promising trial results of Gilead Sciences' remdesivir boosted sentiment. In addition, the overnight surge in crude oil prices lifted oil stocks.


The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 63.60 points or 1.18 percent to 5,457.00, after rising to a high of 5,393.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 67.70 points or 1.24 percent to 5,531.50. Australian stocks closed higher on Wednesday.


The big four banks are notably higher. ANZ Banking is rising more than 6 percent, Commonwealth Bank is higher by more than 4 percent, National Australia Bank is advancing almost 2 percent and Westpac is adding almost 1 percent.


ANZ Banking reported a 51 percent fall in statutory net profit for the first half of the year on credit impairment charges of A$1.67 billion and said it has deferred the payment of an interim dividend to shareholders.


In the oil sector, Oil Search is gaining almost 7 percent, Woodside Petroleum is rising more than 3 percent Santos is higher by more than 2 percent after crude oil prices gained sharply overnight.


In the mining space, BHP and Rio Tinto are rising more than 2 percent each. Fortescue Metals is higher by almost 4 percent after the miner reported a 10 percent increase in third-quarter shipments and raised its outlook for full-year iron ore shipments.


Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent after safe-haven gold prices extended losses to a fourth straight session overnight.


Woolworths Group reported a 10 percent increase in food sales at its Australian supermarkets in the third quarter, while New Zealand total food sales rose 13.4 percent. The retail giant's shares are declining more than 1 percent.


Origin Energy said revenue from its stake in the Australia Pacific LNG joint venture fell 17.7 percent in the third quarter, reflecting lower contracted LNG sales. The electricity and gas retailer's shares are rising more than 2 percent.


In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that export prices in Australia rose 2.7 percent on quarter and 2.3 percent on year. Import prices fell 1.0 percent on quarter, but gained 0.9 percent on year.


The Reserve Bank of Australia said that private sector credit in Australia was up 1.1 percent on month in March, accelerating from 0.4 percent in February. On a yearly basis, credit jumped 3.6 percent - slowing from 3.9 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6547, compared to $0.6536 on Wednesday.


The Japanese market, which resumed trading after a holiday on Wednesday, is sharply higher following promising trial results of Gilead Sciences' potential coronavirus treatment. Data showing that Japan's industrial production fell less than expected in March also boosted sentiment.


The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 492.96 points or 2.49 percent to 20,264.15, after rising to a high of 20,316.96 in early trades.


Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising more than 3 percent and Fast Retailing is gaining more than 4 percent.


SoftBank Group said it now expects its net loss for the year ending March to widen to 900 billion yen from its previous forecast of 750 billion yen, reflecting new losses related to its investment in office-sharing firm WeWork.


The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are rising more than 3 percent each, while Canon is higher by 3 percent and Sony is advancing more than 1 percent.


In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 3 percent and Advantest is rising more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 5 percent and Toyota is adding more than 1 percent.


In the oil sector, Inpex is gaining more than 4 percent, while Japan Petroleum is lower by almost 2 percent even as crude oil prices gained sharply overnight.


Among the other major gainers, Okuma Corp. is climbing 10 percent, Dentsu Group is gaining more than 8 percent and Recruit Holdings is rising almost 8 percent. Hino Motors and Mitsui OSK Lines are higher by more than 7 percent each.


On the flip side, NTT Docomo is lower by more than 2 percent, while Nichirei Corp., Osaka Gas Co. and Chubu Electric Power are lower by almost 2 percent each.


In economic news, industrial production in Japan fell a seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent on month in March. That beat expectations for a drop of 5.2 percent following the 0.3 percent fall in February.


Retail sales in Japan were down 4.6 percent on year in March. That barely beat expectations for a decline of 4.7 percent following the downwardly revised 1.6 percent increase in February.


In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore is rising more than 2 percent and Indonesia is higher by almost 2 percent. Shanghai, Taiwan and Malaysia are all advancing more than 1 percent each, while New Zealand is declining.


The markets in South Korea and Hong Kong are closed on Thursday in honor of the birth of Buddha.


On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday as upbeat news about Gilead Sciences' potential coronavirus treatment remdesivir overshadowed a report from the Commerce Department showed U.S. real GDP decreased at an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter following the 2.1 percent jump in the fourth quarter of 2019. Markets maintained their positive bias after the U.S. Federal Reserve held its interest rate target between 0 and 0.25 percent. The Fed said it would continue with its aggressive policy stance until it feels that the economy is back on its feet.


The Dow surged 532.31 points or 2.21 percent to 24,633.86, while the Nasdaq soared 306.98 points or 3.57 percent to 8,914.98 and the S&P 500 jumped 76.12 points or 2.66 percent to end at 2,939.51.


The major European markets also ended on a high note on Wednesday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 2.63 percent, Germany's DAX surged up 2.89 percent and France's CAC 40 gained 2.22 percent.


Crude oil prices rose sharply on Wednesday, rebounding from losses in the previous two sessions. WTI crude for June gained $2.72, or about 22 percent, at $15.06 a barrel.


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