Asian equities mixed following US stimulus bill, gains taking

Asian equities mixed following US stimulus bill, gains taking

Asian stocks traded mixed on Monday, while some indices were boosted by hopes of a gradual global recovery after the US economic aid package was approved by the Senate over the weekend.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 traded 0.2% higher at 28,926.03 in early trade. 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. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.2% to 3,020.40, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5% to 3,483.92.

Although shares mostly rose initially, some benchmarks fell as players sold off to lock in profits.

“Asian markets had started firmer at the beginning of the week by sharing in optimism about the progress of the passage of the US fiscal stimulus package,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist for IG in Singapore.

Smaller company stocks outgained the broader market, as they have all year. The Russell 2000 index picked up 2.1%, to 2,192.21.

A U.S. government report Friday showed employers added hundreds of thousands more jobs last month than economists expected and was an encouraging sign for the economy. But it also helped lift Treasury yields, adding to worries that rising inflation might end a spell of ultralow interest rates.

Rising oil prices are a part of that picture. After plunging with the onset of the pandemic, as demand plummeted, prices have been recovering in the past few months.

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

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

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

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

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched up to 108.39 Japanese yen from 108.34 yen. The euro cost $1.1902, down from $1.1919.

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