Asian stocks higher after Wall St. rises to new record

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A currency trader walks by the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after Wall St. rose to a new record. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

TOKYO – Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after Wall St. rose to a new record.

Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul rose while Hong Kong declined.

Overnight, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed 0.7% higher. Investors were encouraged by company earnings, news that a surge in coronavirus cases is easing, progress in distributing vaccines and the possibility of government stimulus.

Despite concern prices might be rising too fast, investor optimism means “the momentum behind this reflation trade remains a force to reckon with,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.7% to 3,558.63 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.4% to 29,497.51. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was off under 0.1% at 29,312.65.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.6% to 3,110.81 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.5% to 6,846.00. New Zealand retreated while Singapore and Jakarta advanced.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 28.76 points to 3,915.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8% to 31,385.76. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1% to 13,987.64.

In Washington, President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats appear to be moving forward with a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan. That includes a rise in the federally required minimum wage and cash aid to households.

“Market participants doubled down on fiscal stimulus bets” after U.S. Federal Reserve officials downplayed concerns the spending might fuel inflation, said Mizuho Bank in a report.

Tesla rose 1.3% after the company said it purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and pIans to allow customers to pay for their electric vehicles with the digital currency. Bitcoin was up 13.2% to $43,252, according to digital currency brokerage Coinbase.

In another sign of optimism, Treasury yields continued to push mostly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.17% from 1.15% late Friday, more than double where it was six months ago. While there have been near-zero signs of inflation in recent months, investors believe improving economic fortunes and trillions of dollars in stimulus could make stocks more attractive, and therefore make bond yields rise as their prices fall.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 50 cents to $58.47 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.12 on Monday to $57.97. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 56 cents to $61.12 per barrel in London. It advanced $1.22 the previous session to $60.56.

The dollar fell to 104.92 yen from Monday's 105.22. The euro rose to $1.2083 from $1.2055.