Asian stocks rise, but Nikkei weakens as COVID-19 cases rise in Japan

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BANGKOK (AP) – Stocks rose mostly in Asia on Thursday, although Tokyo’s benchmark index declined as reports of rising coronavirus cases raised alarm for another setback in the pandemic recovery. Tokyo reported 545 new cases and the Osaka government declared a medical emergency as the latest surge in infections outpaced minimal progress in vaccinating people against COVID-19.

The Nikkei 225 NIK Index, -0.07% fell 0.1% to 29,708.98, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong HSI, + 1.16% jumped 1.2% to 29,014.57. In Seoul, the Kospi 180721, + 0.19% was up 0.2% to 3,143.26. Australia’s S & P / ASX 200 XJO, + 1.02%, gained 1% to 6,998.80. The Shanghai SHCOMP Composite Index, + 0.08% added 0.1% to 3,481.70. US futures ES00, + 0.33% YM00, + 0.06% NQ00, + 0.75% were higher. On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P 500 SPX index, + 0.15% was up 0.1% to 4,079.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, + 0.05% gained 0.1% to 33,446.26. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.07% fell 0.1% to 13,688.84. The S&P 500 and the Dow set all-time highs on Monday. Small business stocks, which have been outperforming the broader market this year, took the brunt of the sales. The Russell 2000 RUT index, -1.60% of the smallest companies fell 1.6%, to 2,223.05. The index is up 12.6% year-to-date, while the S&P 500, which tracks large companies, is up 8.6%. The overall market has remained mostly subdued this week, as investors remain cautiously optimistic about the economic recovery. Vaccine distribution has increased and President Joe Biden has increased his deadline for states to make doses available to all adults by April 19. Vaccines are helping fuel recovery, but the virus remains a major threat as variants are discovered. and threaten additional closures. Analysts expect the economy to recover this year, but they also anticipate that the market will remain choppy as investors transfer money to businesses and industries that will benefit as the pandemic subsides. The yield on 10-year Treasury bonds TY00, + 0.01% was stable at 1.66%. A sharp rise in bond yields since the beginning of the year reflects growing concern among investors that inflation may return as economic growth intensifies and the United States emerges from the pandemic-induced recession. Higher returns can slow down the economy by making it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow money. The shares were little changed on Wednesday following the release of minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting on interest rate policy. The minutes revealed that Fed officials were encouraged last month by evidence that the U.S. economy was recovering, but showed no signs of coming close to finalizing its bond purchases or raising its interest rate from short-term benchmark from almost zero. Fed lawmakers also said they expect inflation to likely rise in the coming months due to supply bottlenecks, but believe it will stay close to its 2% target in the long term. Investors were reassured by the Fed’s “very optimistic and balanced tone of higher growth and transitory inflation,” Axi’s Stephen Innes said in a comment. “And it keeps American investors in candy store mode as it feeds off the sugar rush from infrastructure stimulus.” The minutes are from a Fed meeting that took place before last week’s March employment report, which showed 916,000 surprisingly strong positions were added that month, the most since August, and the unemployment rate fell to 6. % from 6.2%. In other operations, the US crude oil of reference CL.1, -0.60% lost 56 cents to 59.21 dollars per barrel in electronic operations on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 44 cents to $ 59.77 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent BRN00 crude, -0.38%, the international price standard, fell 56 cents to $ 62.60 a barrel. The US dollar DXY, -0.17% fell to 109.72 Japanese yen USDJPY, -0.33% from 109.85 yen. Euro EURUSD, + 0.06% rose to $ 1.1877 from $ 1.1868