Asian shares up after Wall St closes best quarter since 1998

Tokyo: Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday after Wall Street capped its best quarter since 1998, shrugging off continued signs of global economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2% to 22,187.27. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.0% to 2,130.14. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.9% to 5,953.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5% to 24,427.19, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.3% to 2,993.60.

Markets have continued gaining despite signs global economies are ailing seriously because of the outbreak, with uncertainty still the new normal as reported cases keep surging around the world while no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 is available.

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A quarterly Bank of Japan survey released Wednesday showed Japanese manufacturers’ sentiment plunged to its lowest level in more than a decade, as the pandemic crushes exports and tourism, mainstays for the world’s third largest economy.

The headline measure for the “tankan”, tracking sentiment among large manufacturers, fell to minus 34, the lowest since 2009, from minus 8 the previous quarter. The tankan measures corporate sentiment by subtracting the number of companies saying business conditions are negative from those responding they are positive.

A survey showed China’s manufacturing activity improved in June, adding to signs of a gradual recovery from the country’s deepest economic downturn since at least the mid-1960s.

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The monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by a business magazine, Caixin, rose to 51.2 from May’s 50.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate activity increasing. A sub-index for export orders rose to 47 from 41.7.

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