Asian Shares Rise As Biden Inches Closer To Majority

Asian stocks advanced on Thursday as former vice-president Joe Biden inched closer to the White House after pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin.

A Biden win and a Republican senate signaled a gridlock, but analysts said that major policy changes would be difficult to enact.

The risk of a prolonged contested election remained as Trump’s campaign moved to file lawsuits and request for a recount in many states.

Chinese shares rose on expectations that a possibly less confrontational approach to trade policy by a Biden administration could help defuse the current tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index gained 42.69 points, or 1.30 percent, to finish at 3,320.13, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended up 3.25 percent at 25,695.92.

Japanese shares hit over two-year high as U.S. Democrats inched closer to the magic number of 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidential election.

The Nikkei average climbed 410.05 points, or 1.73 percent, to 24,105.28, its highest since Oct. 3, 2018. The broader Topix index closed 1.39 percent higher at 1,649.94.

Automaker Suzuki Motor rallied 4.9 percent after its profit forecast came in higher than analysts’ expectations. Pharmaceutical firm Eisai soared almost 18 percent after the company and its partner Biogen Inc moved closer to receiving FDA approval for their Alzheimer drug.

Banks and insurers ended in the red after long-dated U.S. Treasury yields fell from five-month highs on Wednesday in response to an unexpectedly close U.S. election result.

Australian markets hit a more than one-week high on expectations that a divided Congress in the U.S. would be good for business and markets.

Investors also digested news that biotechnology company Novavax has a reached a deal with Australian government to supply 40 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 climbed 77.50 points, or 1.28 percent, to 6,139.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 79 points, or 1.26 percent, at 6,344.

Healthcare stocks rose broadly, with heavyweight CSL rallying 3.5 percent. Cochlear rose 2.1 percent and Resmed surged 3.6 percent.

Treasury Wine Estates plunged as much as 8.2 percent on China tariff woes and amid news that it had paused the demerger of its Penfolds division.

Lender National Australia Bank gained 3.3 percent despite reporting a 37 percent fall in full-year cash earnings. Miners and energy stocks fell broadly. Tech stocks followed their U.S. peers higher, with Afterpay rising 2.5 percent.

Seoul stocks soared amid bets that a Joe Biden presidency cannot undo the Trump era policies. The benchmark Kospi jumped 56.47 points, or 2.40 percent, to 2,413.79.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose 3.1 percent and SK Hynix, the world’s No.2 memory chip maker, added 3.5 percent.

Solar cell manufacturer Hanwha Solutions jumped 12.3 percent and steel structure maker Dongkuk Structures & Construction rallied 10.8 percent on expectations the companies would benefit Democrat Joe Biden’s green energy proposals.

New Zealand shares ended modestly higher following a buoyant session on Wall Street overnight. The benchmark NZX-50 index rose 50.05 points, or 0.41 percent, to 12,249.98, extending gains for the third straight session. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rallied 2.5 percent to pace the gainers, while Meridian Energy lost 2.5 percent.

U.S. stocks rose sharply overnight, with tech and healthcare companies leading the surge on the likelihood of a divided Congress. Investors ignored data showing a slower pace of U.S. private-sector job creation in October and a softening of services sector activity.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 1.3 percent to extend gains for the third straight session, while the S&P 500 surged 2.2 percent and the tech-heavy Composite index jumped as much as 3.9 percent.

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