A woman walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Asian shares rose Monday amid some hope for recovering economies slammed by the pandemic, as market attention turned to upcoming company earnings. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose Monday amid some hopes for recovering economies slammed by the pandemic, as attention turned to upcoming company earnings.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 to finish at 28,822.29. Australia's S&P/ASX200 added 0.4% to 6,824.70. South Korea's Kospi gained 2.1% to 3,207.64. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.8% to 29,983.32, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed, inching up less than 0.1% to 3,609.09.
Hopes are high that once the pandemic comes under some control, regional economies will make strong recoveries, with lockdowns easing, compared to last year, and vaccines rollouts starting in various places, including Singapore.
But worries that have rippled through markets over the coronavirus pandemic remain, including resurging cases in some parts of China and in Japan.
“Vaccine breakthroughs make it likely that life will become more functional again at some point in 2021, resulting in higher GDP growth and more robust corporate earnings,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi.
“But increasing global COVID19 infections, new variants of the virus, tightening social distancing restrictions and delays in vaccine rollouts in some places, all increase the near-term growth risks.”
Wall Street had a mixed finish last week for the major stock indexes.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.3% to 3,841.47, snapping a three-day winning streak. It notched a 1.9% gain for the week. The index was coming off two straight all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6% to 30,996.98. The Nasdaq inched up 0.1% to 13,543.06, another record high. The Russell 2000 added 1.3% to 2,168.76.
Investors weighed another batch of company earnings reports Friday. The big theme in the early part of this earnings season is that most companies are handily beating Wall Street's profits expectations for the last three months of 2020, with banks and some other industries leading the way. About 13% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported results so far.
Markets have been mostly rallying recently on hopes that COVID-19 vaccines will lead to a powerful economic recovery later this year as daily life gets closer to normal. Hopes are also high that Washington will deliver another dose of stimulus for the economy now that the White House and both houses of Congress are under single control of the Democrats.
President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to send $1,400 to most Americans and deliver other stimulus for the economy. But his party holds only the slimmest possible majority in the Senate, raising doubts about how much can be approved. Several Republicans have already voiced opposition to parts of the plan.
The coronavirus pandemic is also worsening and doing more damage to the economy by the day. In Europe, a survey of purchasing managers showed on Friday that activity in the manufacturing and services sectors shrank during January in the 19-country eurozone. The data suggests the eurozone’s economy may contract again this quarter.
In China, where the pandemic began in late 2019, the government has reimposed travel controls after outbreaks in Beijing and other cities. A spike in infections has authorities calling on the public to avoid travel during February’s Lunar New Year holiday, normally the year’s most important family event.
The U.S. economy has also been taking hits recently, with reports showing weakness in the job market and falling confidence among shoppers. But the data has been mixed.
Massive support from central banks is providing a major underpinning for the markets. The Federal Reserve and others are holding short-term interest rates at record lows, among other measures to support economies until the pandemic can be brought under control.
In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 3 cents to $52.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 86 cents to $52.27 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard edged up 4 cents to $55.45 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar fell to 103.72 Japanese yen from 103.83 yen late Friday. The euro cost $1.2180, up from $1.2169.
7 Stocks That Could Provide a Year-End Rally
It’s rough in the markets right now. Underlying the volatility is uncertainty. The VIX Index (INDEXCBOE: VIX) otherwise known as the Fear Index is unofficial, but an eerily accurate predictor of market sentiment. And the VIX is up 30% in the last month.
Is this uncertainty due to concerns over additional lockdown measures? Is it about the lack of additional coronavirus stimulus? Is the market reacting to a surge in jobless claims? Or is this just the somewhat normal volatility that comes in an election year that promises to be like none in American history.
The answer is all of the above and then some. But does that mean you should stay out of equities? I don’t think so. Where are you going to go? The Fed has promised interest rates are going nowhere fast. And that bit of news is weighing down the bond market.
So stocks it is. But although growth-seeking investors may be tempted to look at the tech sector to see what’s on sale today, I suggest taking a more targeted approach. Rather than looking at a single sector, try to look at solid performers in different sectors that may be ready to surge over the last three months.
The pandemic brought the entire market down. But once investors took a breath they found bargains. And if you had the courage to put your money to work in those stocks, you’ve been rewarded.
Times like these call for the same type of courage. And that’s why we’ve put together this special presentation with seven stocks that look ready to surprise investors with nice end-of-year gains.
View the "7 Stocks That Could Provide a Year-End Rally".