China leads gains in Asia-Pacific as tech shares in Hong Kong rebound

SINGAPORE — Shares in China led gains in Asia-Pacific during Wednesday trade as Chinese tech stocks listed in the city jumped.

By the market close in mainland China, the Shanghai composite gained 0.6% to 3,416.72 while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.55% to 13,728.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also saw robust gains as it climbed about 1.2%, as of its final hour of trading.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese tech firms saw a rebound in Wednesday trade after 12 companies, including Baidu, and Meituan, signaled compliance with antitrust laws.

In Wednesday afternoon trade, shares of Baidu in Hong Kong were up 3.31% while gained 2.68% and Meituan surged 3.7%.

That development came just a day after Beijing gave so-called platform companies a month to examine their actions and rectify any anti-competitive practices. Shares of most Chinese tech giants in Hong Kong tumbled on Tuesday amid those regulatory fears.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.44% on the day to 29,620.99 while the Topix index declined 0.33% to 1,952.18. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.42% to close at 3,182.38.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.66% to end its trading day at 7,023.10.

In Southeast Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore slipped about 0.2% in afternoon trade. That came despite data showing the country’s economy unexpectedly grew 0.2% in the first quarter of 2021 as compared with a year earlier, according to official advance estimates released Wednesday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares nudged 0.91% higher.

Covid developments

Investors watched for market reaction to a Tuesday announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking states to temporarily halt using Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after six women in the country developed a rare blood-clotting disorder. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S. to date.

Meanwhile, Moderna said Tuesday that its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting against Covid and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose.

Globally, more than 137 million cases of Covid infections have been recorded and the death toll from the disease has crossed the 2.9 million mark, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 saw a new closing high as it advanced 0.33% to 4,141.59 while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.05% to end its trading day at 13,996.10. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged as it shed 68.13 points to close at 33,677.27.

Oil prices rise

Oil prices jumped in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.3% to $64.50 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 1.36% to $61 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.702 after touching an earlier low of 91.727.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.92 per dollar, stronger than levels above 109.5 against the greenback seen yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7678, above levels below $0.762 seen earlier this week.

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