Asian markets rose in early trading Thursday on optimism that the coronavirus outbreak would be contained.
Markets got an unexpected boost later in the day as China announced it was cutting tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods in half.
On Wednesday, there were unconfirmed reports that researchers had made breakthroughs toward developing a vaccine, but the World Health Organization said there are still no known effective therapeutics against the coronavirus.
U.S. health officials said it is too soon to say when the outbreak may peak. “We’re preparing as if this is a pandemic,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the Associated Press.
China reported Thursday that the number of confirmed cases had risen to more than 28,000, with 563 deaths.
Still, traders appeared confident that the economic impact of the outbreak would be contained and short-lived.
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.24% surged 2.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.11% jumped 1.8%. The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.33% rose 1% while the Shenzhen Composite gained 2.1%. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.70% advanced 2.2%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 -0.46% and Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -0.80% gained. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -1.61% rose 0.8%.
Among individual stocks, Yahoo Japan parent Z Holdings /zigman2/quotes/207641152/delayed JP:4689 -1.52% leaped in Tokyo trading. SoftBank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 +3.46% , Fast Retailing /zigman2/quotes/200663563/delayed JP:9983 -0.12% and Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +2.09% gained as well. In Hong Kong, oil producers CNOOC /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 +3.49% and PetroChina /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 +4.30% rose, along with China Mobile /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 +1.75% and casino operator Galaxy Entertainment /zigman2/quotes/202884203/delayed HK:27 +0.86% . LG Electronics /zigman2/quotes/209966407/delayed KR:066570 +3.85% and SK Hynix /zigman2/quotes/206420319/delayed KR:000660 +1.40% gained in South Korea, while Apple component maker Hon Hai Precision Industry /zigman2/quotes/207256514/delayed TW:2317 +0.14% rose after cutting its 2020 revenue outlook due to the effects of strict quarantines of workers potentially exposed to the coronavirus. Mining giant BHP /zigman2/quotes/208108397/lastsale BHP -2.23% and Westpac Banking /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC -3.50% advanced in Australia.
“The markets are not only holding up, but they’re going up!!!” wrote Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, in a note. “And to suggest risk appetite continues to ‘creep’ back in favor, might be the biggest understatement of the week.”
Innes said that despite the WHO’s cautionary take, “any progress on treatment may also be a comfort to investors that the longer-term secondary effects of the outbreak are contained.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -4.44% rose 483.22 points, or 1.7%, to end at 29,290.85, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -4.41% gained 37.10 points, or 1.1%, to close at 3,334.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -4.41% added 40.71 points, 0.4%, ending the session at 9,508.68. Those levels marked new closing highs for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
Oil prices surged again Thursday, with the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery rose $1.07, or 2.1%, to $51.90. April Brent crude , the global benchmark, gained $0.91, or 1.6%, to $56.25.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.2799% rose to 109.94 Japanese yen from 109.48 yen on Wednesday.