Asia Markets

Australian markets jump more than 2% as Asia stocks mostly rise

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia Pacific were mostly higher on Tuesday.
  • Shares of Samsung Group companies in South Korea were mixed on Tuesday. The moves came after a court in Seoul rejected an arrest warrant for the conglomerate's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, according to local news agency Yonhap.
  • An overnight rally stateside saw the S&P 500 erasing its losses and entering positive territory for the year.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mostly higher on Tuesday as investor sentiment continues to remain elevated amid an easing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Shares in Australia, which returned to trade following a Monday holiday, led gains in the region's major markets as the S&P/ASX 200 surged 2.44% to close at 6,144.90. The financial subindex rose 4.84% as shares of the country's so-called Big Four banks soared: Commonwealth Bank of Australia was up 5.05%, Westpac jumped 5.8%, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group added 6.22% and National Australia Bank gained 5.08%.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 1.88%, as of its final hour of trading. Mainland Chinese stocks edged higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.62% to around 2,956.11 while the Shenzhen component added 0.611% to about 11,284.24.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed 0.38% lower at 23,091.03 while the Topix index shed 0.14% to end its trading day at 1,628.43. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.21% to close at 2,188.92.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index advanced 1%.

The moves regionally came after an overnight rally stateside saw the S&P 500 erasing its losses and entering positive territory for the year.

Markets have seen recent positive momentum as hopes rise of an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the World Bank said Monday that it forecasts the global economy to shrink by 5.2%, representing the deepest recession since the Second World War.

"(The markets) are reflecting both the poor economic conditions but also the policy response," Gary Dugan, CEO at The Global CIO Office, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday.

"The policy response has been front-loaded by putting money into people's pockets almost immediately, by giving people who're unemployed some hope that they're gonna get rehired," Dugan said. "Those are the kinds of things that're (an) influence to the market and not these kind of still very bad forecasts that are coming out of both the IMF or World Bank." 

In corporate news, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday that the Hong Kong government will bail airline Cathay Pacific out with 30 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3.87 billion) in loans and a direct stake. Trading of the Cathay Pacific's shares in Hong Kong were earlier halted on Tuesday.

Shares of Samsung Group firms mixed

Shares of Samsung Group companies in South Korea were mixed on Tuesday. Industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics was 1.09% higher and Samsung Biologics rose 1.81%, while Samsung C&T dropped 0.88%.

Those shares of Samsung Group companies in South Korea were watched after a court in Seoul rejected an arrest warrant for the conglomerate's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, according to local news agency Yonhap.

Previously jailed in 2017 after being found guilty of charges ranging from bribery to embezzlement before being released in February 2018, Lee is under investigation in relation to a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015, a move believed to help him take the reigns of the group from his father, Yonhap reported.

Oil prices edge higher

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.69% to $41.08 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 1.02% to $38.58 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.813 after touching an earlier low of 96.532.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.09 per dollar after strengthening sharply from levels above 109.2 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6958, following an earlier high of $0.7042.