Most Asian markets rise as earnings come into focus

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Most markets rose in Asian trade Wednesday as investors shook off a forecast-topping US inflation print and concerns over Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, instead turning their attention to the earnings season.

Hopes are high for the latest round of corporate reports, which starts in earnest in the US later in the day, as the global economy recovers and businesses reopen, with analysts saying they will be keeping an eye on outlooks and executives' views on potential US tax reform measures, among other issues.

"On the back of a convincing string of economic data beats, the economic acceleration should be a powerful tailwind for stocks this quarter and ensure earnings growth," said Axi's Stephen Innes.

"Indeed, earnings tailwinds look set to outweigh concerns around supply chain shortages and rising commodity prices. Importantly, positive earnings and sales revisions have been broad across sectors and industries. Even more so as the Fed continues to leave the policy dial on maximum dovish setting."

Wall Street provided another healthy lead, with the S&P closing at yet another record, with news that consumer prices rose more than expected have little impact.

Observers pointed out that traders accepted that inflation would come in on the high side for a few months owing to the low base effect from last year at the start of the pandemic, while optimism over the worldwide recovery was the dominant feature.

"A lot of growth and inflation have already been priced into the market," Emily Roland, at John Hancock Investment Management, said. "It's almost as if you need to exceed those expectations in order to see a more pronounced reaction from markets.”

In early Asian trade, Hong Kong jumped more than one percent, while Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Jakarta and Wellington also rose. Tokyo and Singapore dipped.

US traders initially sold off in response to news that US authorities had recommended pausing the J&J shot owing to blood clot fears, which was then followed by the firm saying it would delay its European rollout.

The move comes as AstraZeneca's jab has raised similiar fears, and deals a blow to the global immunisation rollout. However, analysts pointed out that other vaccines were seeing no problems.

Pfizer also said it had enough production capacity to produce more than two billion doses this year.

Bitcoin held above $63,000 and just shy of its latest record ahead of the much-anticipated debut of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 29,649.85 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.3 percent at 28,873.49

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,408.38

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1957 from $1.1947 at 20500 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3755 from $1.3751

Euro/pound: UP at 86.93 pence from 86.89 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.88 yen from 109.06 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $60.57 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.6 percent at $64.08 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 33,677.27 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 6,890.49 (close)

-- Bloomberg Nws contributed to this story --