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Asia markets follow Wall St higher as virus fears recede

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Thursday for a second day as optimism about an economic recovery appeared to outweigh concern over rising coronavirus cases and inflation.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney advanced. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Overnight, Wall Street’s S&P 500 index rose 0.8%, putting it on pace for a weekly gain after rebounding from Monday’s 1.6% loss.

Investors are wavering between optimism about a global recovery and unease that it might be delayed by the spread of the virus’s more contagious delta variant. They also worry central bankers might feel pressure to tame rising inflation by rolling back easy credit.

“The Delta variant remains an ever-present downside risk for the markets in the near-term,” said Craig Erlam of Oanda in a report, “but as long as inflation remains only a temporary problem, it also keeps central bank hawks at bay.”

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2% to 3,569.95 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong surged 1.7% to 27,683.23.

The Kospi in Seoul added 1% to 3,247.42 and the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney rose 0.9% to 7,377.60.

India’s Sensex opened 1.2% higher at 52,803.19. New Zealand retreated while Singapore and Jakarta gained.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index rose Wednesday to 4,358.69.

Technology stocks, banks and companies that rely on consumer spending helped drive the benchmark index’s advance. Energy stocks also rose as the price of U.S. crude oil marched 4.3% higher. Utilities and real estate stocks were among the decliners.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8% to 34,798 and the Nasdaq composite added 0.9% to 14,631.95.

U.S. stocks, boosted by unexpectedly strong corporate profit reports, have gained in choppy trading despite coronavirus uncertainties.

Coca-Cola Co. and fast food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill rose after reporting better quarterly results than expected. Netflix fell 3.3% after reporting its worst slowdown in subscriber growth in eight years.

More than 80% of companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results so far have beat analysts’ forecasts, according to FactSet. More than 100 are due to announce next week.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 34 cents to $69.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.88 on Wednesday to $70.30. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 38 cents to $71.85 per barrel in London. It advanced $2.88 the previous session to $72.23.

The dollar declined to 110.14 yen from Wednesday’s 110.28 yen. The euro edged lower to $1.1797 from $1.1799.


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