Asia Markets

South Korea leads gains as Asia Pacific stocks mostly rise; shares of Japan autos Nissan and Mitsubishi drop

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia Pacific were mostly higher on Tuesday.
  • Gold prices dipped from record levels in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with spot gold last trading at $1,937.2782 after rising to as high as $1,980.5662 earlier.
  • Shares of Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors plummeted 12.64% on Tuesday after the company said Monday that it expects to see a 140 billion yen (about $1.329 billion) loss in operating income for the year ending March 31, 2021.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Tuesday afternoon trade as gold prices dipped from their record levels.

Shares in South Korea led gains among the region's major markets, with the Kospi up 1.76% to close at 2,256.99 as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics soared 5.4%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite gaining 0.71% to around 3,227.96 while the Shenzhen component jumped 1.314% to about 13,147.35. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.69%, as of its final hour of trading.

Over in Japan, stocks lagged the overall region as the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.26% to close at 22,657.38 while the Topix index shed 0.48% to finish its trading day at 1,569.12. Shares of Fujifilm rose 3.1% after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday that the U.S. government awarded the firm a $265 million contract for coronavirus vaccine manufacturing.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.39% to close at 6,020.50. In India, the Nifty 50 was up 1.06% in afternoon trade.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index added 0.93%.

Gold prices dipped from record levels in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with spot gold last trading at $1,937.2782 after rising to as high as $1,980.5662 earlier.

The situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic likely continued to weigh on investor sentiment. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday unveiled the Republican coronavirus relief plan, which would include relief for jobless Americans, among other provisions. The U.S. currently has the most number of confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths globally, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Multiple firms also announced Monday the start of late-stage human trials as the race to find a coronavirus vaccine continues. 

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech said they began their late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine on Monday. That announcement by the firms came the same day biotech firm Moderna, also developing a leading vaccine candidate, said it began its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial.

Japanese automaker shares take a hit

Shares of Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors plummeted 12.64% on Tuesday after the company said Monday that it expects to see a 140 billion yen (about $1.329 billion) loss in operating income for the year ending March 31, 2021.

Mitsubishi's bet on electric vehicles "hasn't really taken off," according to Vivek Vaidya, associate partner at Frost & Sullivan. "This is a company which really needs to make sure that they have the right product strategy in place."

Vaidya told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday that he expected Mitsubishi to be pulled through by its alliance with Nissan Motor and Renault. He said the latter two firms would "definitely support" Mitsubishi as the alliance has "worked very pragmatically."

"They don't really react to short-term things because … in the entire automotive industry it is the survival of the fittest, and the fittest is the one who has the largest capacity, larges access to the vendors, largest access to the customers," Vaidya said.

Meanwhile, Nissan Motor also saw its stock drop 4.33% on Tuesday following a Nikkei Asian Review report that the firm's automobile business runs the risk of running out of cash over the next year and a half.

Shares of other Japanese automakers also slipped, with Toyota down 1.5% while Honda shed 1.69%.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.784 after touching an earlier low of 93.493.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.50 per dollar following an earlier high of 105.20 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.7134 after touching an earlier high of $0.7176.

Oil prices edged higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.6% to $43.67 per barrel. U.S. crude futures added 0.17% to $41.67 per barrel.