Asian Shares See Muted Gains

Asian stocks saw muted gains on Wednesday after Wall Street’s main indexes ended sharply higher overnight, led by gains in tech and travel shares.

The upside, if any, was limited as a jump in coronavirus cases globally threatened economic activity, just days before Christmas and New Year holidays.

Chinese shares ended marginally lower despite an assurance from a senior state planner to keep growth stable in the world’s second largest economy. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.57 percent to 23,102.33 as Chinese tech stocks staged a muted rebound.

Japanese markets advanced, with chipmakers and other tech stocks pacing the gainers. The Nikkei average rose 44.62 points, or 0.16 percent, to 28,562.21 while the broader Topix index closed marginally higher at 1,971.51.

Sony surged 2.8 percent after its Indian subsidiary finalized a deal with local rival Zee Entertainment to merge their television channels, film assets and streaming platforms.

Australian markets ended a choppy session slightly higher as technology and healthcare stocks extended gains to a third straight session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.13 percent to 7,364.80 as the government renewed its vaccination push. The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 0.21 percent at 7, 682.60.

Link Administration surged 15 percent after receiving a $2.48 bln buyout bid from Canada’s cloud-based software company Dye & Durham.

Rio Tinto shares fell 2 percent after the miners signaled it intends to become a significant player in the global lithium market.

Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals surged 8.8 percent and Liontown Resources rallied 4 percent. Tech heavyweight Afterpay jumped 5.4 percent, after having hit a 52-week low on Tuesday.

Seoul stocks rose for a second straight session as chipmakers followed their global peers higher. The Kospi average inched up 9.45 points, or 0.32 percent, to 2,984.48. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gained 1.7 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix rallied 2 percent.

New Zealand shares reversed early losses to end on a flat note despite strong leads from the United States. Trading volumes were light as traders trickled out the door on their Christmas holidays.

Medical products distributor Ebos jumped 3.8 percent to breach $39 for the first time after its recent successful share placement to help fund the A$1.2 billion acquisition of a healthcare distribution business.

U.S. stocks posted robust gains overnight, as the likes of Micron Technology, Nike and Rite Aid reported better than expected quarterly results and Moderna announced that a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine increased antibody levels against Omicron.

The Dow climbed 1.6 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped as much as 2.4 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.8 percent.

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