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Asian stocks mixed after US stimulus bill, profit taking




TOKYO Asian stocks were mixed on Monday, with some hints raised by hopes of a gradual global recovery after the US economic relief plan was passed in the Senate over the weekend.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was up 0.2% early in the session to 28,926.03. Australia’s S & P / ASX 200 jumped nearly 1.0% to 6,776.00, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.2% to 3,020.40. The Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 1.2% to 3,020.40, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5% to 3,483.92.

Although stocks mostly rose early, some benchmarks slipped as players sold to lock in profits.

Asian markets started the week on a more solid footing earlier in the week, sharing optimism about progress in the passage of the US fiscal stimulus package, said Jingyi Pan, market strategist for IG in Singapore.

The bill, narrowly passed by the Senate on Saturday, provides direct payments of up to $ 1,400 for most Americans and extended emergency unemployment benefits. It’s a victory for President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies as final congressional approval is expected this week.

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Chinese trade data also supported an optimistic view that a recovery from the damage from the coronavirus pandemic could be expected in the coming months.

Data from Beijing released on Saturday showed Chinese exports jumped 60.6% from a year earlier in the first two months of 2021, as factories reopen and global demand gradually recovered. The huge increase reflects a drop in manufacturing and exports in early 2020 at the height of the coronavirus outbreaks in China.

The gradual roll-out of vaccines in most parts of the world is also fueling optimism, although it has hardly started in some Asian countries, including Japan.

Japan extended the state of emergency for the Tokyo area by two weeks until March 21, asking restaurants and other businesses to close at 8 p.m. as the government tries to keep the economy growing while cutting back the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Wall Street capped a volatile trading day to end last week with a large rally that broke the market’s three-day losing streak. The S&P 500 gained 2% to 3,841.94. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.9% to 31,496.30. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.6% to 12,920.15.

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Smaller company stocks have outperformed the market as a whole, as they have been doing all year. The Russell 2000 Index rose 2.1% to 2,192.21.

A US government report on Friday showed employers created hundreds of thousands more jobs last month than economists expected and was an encouraging sign for the economy. But it also helped raise Treasury yields, adding to fears that rising inflation could end a wave of extremely low interest rates.

Rising oil prices are part of this picture. After plunging with the onset of the pandemic, as demand plummeted, prices have picked up in recent months.

The devastating winter freeze that hit Texas and other parts of the southern United States last month wiped out an estimated 4 million barrels per day of U.S. oil production and prices soared above $ 60 the barrel.

Last week, with oil prices rising, some observers expected the OPEC cartel and its allies to lift more restrictions and let oil flow more freely. But OPEC has agreed to leave most of the restrictions in place, despite growing demand.

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Benchmark US crude rose $ 1.42, or 2.2%, to $ 67.51 a barrel in electronic trading Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped from $ 2.26 to $ 66.09 a barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the international standard, gained $ 1.48 to $ 70.84 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar edged up to 108.39 Japanese yen from 108.34 yen. The euro cost $ 1.1902, compared to $ 1.1919.


AP Business editor Cathy Bussewitz contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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