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March 20, 2020, 12:09 a.m. EDT

Asian markets rise after central-bank actions offer hope

Stocks show healthy gains in Hong Kong, Seoul, Sydney

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By Associated Press

Getty Images/iStock Photos
Stocks were up in Hong Kong on Friday.

BEIJING — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after modest Wall Street gains on hopes government and central bank action can shield the world economy from a looming global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.12%   rose 0.5% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.25%   gained 2.7%. The Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.46%   in Seoul advanced 3.9% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.39%   added 2.7%. New Zealand /zigman2/quotes/211587880/delayed NZ:NZ50GR +1.20%   was down 0.3%. Shares rose in Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -2.17%   and Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 -0.08%   but fell in Malaysia /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI -1.06%   and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -0.06%  , where the number of cases of the virus has been soaring. Japan’s Nikkei was closed for a holiday.

Oil gained again after U.S. benchmark crude soared 23% on Thursday for its biggest one-day gain on record.

Investors were encouraged after seeing more steps by the Federal Reserve and other central banks and governments to support credit markets and the economy.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.04%   rose 0.5% in a relatively modest change compared with violent price swings over the past week.

Hopes are rising for progress in finding virus treatments and that “a boatload of stimulus by both central banks and governments will put the global economy in position for a U-shaped recovery,” said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank launched a program to inject money into credit markets by purchasing up to 750 billion euros ($820 billion) in bonds. The Bank of England cut its key interest rate to a record low of 0.1%. Australia’s central bank also cut its benchmark lending rate to 0.25%. Central banks in Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines also cut their benchmark rates.

They are trying to reduce the impact of a global recession that forecasters say looks increasingly likely as the United States and other governments tighten travel controls, close businesses and tell consumers and travelers to stay home.

Investors also appeared to be encouraged by reports that China is set to ramp up stimulus spending after the province where the virus emerged in December showed no new infections on Wednesday.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Federal Reserve unveiled measures to support money-market funds and the borrowing of dollars as investors in markets worldwide hurry to build up dollars and cash as insurance against falling asset prices.

The dash for cash has strained markets. Sellers of even high-quality bonds say they have difficulty finding buyers at reasonable prices.

Investors are jumpy due to uncertainty about the size and duration of the impact of the coronavirus and the spreading wave of business shutdowns meant to help contain it.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude   gained 56 cents to $25.78 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $4.85 on Thursday to settle at $25.22.

Brent crude  , used to price international oils, lost 7 cents to $28.40 per barrel in London. It rose 14.4%, or $3.59, to settle at $28.47 the previous session.

The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.0818%   advanced to 110.32 yen from Thursday’s 109.95 yen.

CN : China: Shanghai
-3.29 -0.12%
Volume: 8.97B
May 25, 2020 10:52a
HK : Hong Kong Exchange
-285.94 -1.25%
Volume: 673,145
May 25, 2020 10:52a
KR : Korea Exchange
+9.02 +0.46%
Volume: 415,531
May 25, 2020 11:47a
+76.50 +1.39%
Volume: 309,857
May 25, 2020 12:47p
NZ : New Zealand: NZX
+127.55 +1.20%
Volume: 0.00
May 25, 2020 2:46p
SG : Singapore: SGX
-55.51 -2.17%
Volume: 0.00
May 22, 2020 5:20p
TW : Taiwan Stock Exchange
-9.08 -0.08%
Volume: 0.00
May 25, 2020 10:47a
MY : Malaysia
-15.35 -1.06%
Volume: 0.00
May 22, 2020 5:05p
ID : Indonesia Stock Exchange
-2.70 -0.06%
Volume: 0.00
May 20, 2020 3:00p
US : Dow Jones Global
-8.96 -0.04%
Volume: 255.66M
May 22, 2020 5:09p
US : Tullett Prebon
+0.0880 +0.0818%
Volume: 0.0000
May 24, 2020 11:07p

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