Asian Shares Hold Steady In Thin Holiday Trade

Asian stocks were broadly higher in thin holiday trade on Friday, with some markets set to close early due to Christmas Eve.

Underlying sentiment remained supported as another batch of economic data painted a picture of solid U.S. growth.

Covid-19 worries continued to ease with a U.K. study suggesting that Omicron infections are less likely to lead to hospitalization despite surging cases.

Separately, Merck’s Covid-19 pill Molnupiravir received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Treasuries and a dollar gauge slipped on improved risk appetite while crude oil pushed up toward $74 a barrel.

China’s Shanghai Composite index dropped half a percent after a top performing distressed debt investor said he’s avoiding China Evergrande Group. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.3 percent.

Japanese shares were little changed after November consumer inflation marked the biggest year-on-year rise in nearly two years on surging fuel costs.

South Korea’s Kospi average rose half a percent amid easing Omicron concerns.

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was up 0.4 percent, extending gains for the fourth straight day. Wealth manager AMP soared almost 7 percent after it announced a AUD428m ($309.6m) sale of its infrastructure debt platform to Ares Holdings.

U.S. stocks rose for the third straight session overnight as another batch of positive economic data and easing Omicron worries boosted sentiment ahead of a long Christmas weekend.

The S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent to notch a record closing high, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.9 percent and the Dow added 0.6 percent.

European stocks also extended gains to a third straight session on Thursday amid optimism about global growth.

The pan European Stoxx 600 advanced 1 percent. The German DAX rallied 1 percent, France’s CAC 40 index gained 0.8 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent.

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