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Asian Shares Mixed; Japan Rallies on Stimulus Hopes, Aussie Shares Sink on RBA Contraction Warning

James Hyerczyk

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished mixed, but mostly higher on Tuesday as investors followed Wall Street’s bullish lead on rising hopes the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic may be slowing.

Mainland Chinese stocks posted the biggest gain after investors returned from a three-day holiday weekend. The Nikkei followed with strong gains fueled by the announcement of a new fiscal stimulus package. Shares were down in Australia after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left its benchmark interest rate unchanged.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 18950.18, up 373.88 or +2.01%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 24176.76, up 427.64 or +1.80% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 1823.60, up 31.72 or +1.77%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2820.76, up 56.78 or +2.05% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 finished at 5252.30, down 34.50 or -0.65%.

Risk Sentiment Improves

Risk sentiment improved as data over the weekend showed a slowing in the number of daily U.S. coronavirus cases. Death tolls in some of the world’s coronavirus hot spots, including Spain and Italy, also showed signs of easing.

Coronavirus data was mixed in Asia with South Korea reporting Tuesday less than 50 new cases of infection for the second day running. China also posted no new deaths as of April 6 for the first time since January when it started publishing daily updates. However, fresh infections rose in Singapore and Indonesia.

Japan to Announce Coronavirus Emergency, Prepares Near $1 Trillion Stimulus

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday unveiled plans for a stimulus package he described as among the world’s biggest as he prepared to declare a state of emergency to stem a rise in new coronavirus infections in major population centers.

Abe will announce the state of emergency for the capital Tokyo and six other prefectures, for a period of about one month, after earlier on Tuesday getting the green light from a panel of experts.

His cabinet will also finalize a massive stimulus package worth 108 trillion yen ($990 billion) – equal to 20% of Japan’s economic output – to cushion the heavy impact of the pandemic on the world’s third-largest economy.

Australian Shares finish Lower on RBA Outlook

Australian shares reversed course to end lower on Tuesday, with financials and healthcare stocks leading the decline after the central bank’s cautious commentary on the country’s near-term economic fortunes.

While the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left its cash rate at a record low of 0.25% on Tuesday, as expected, it warned that a very large economic contraction is likely in the June quarter. The central bank also said the unemployment rate is expected to reach its highest level for many years.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire