(RTTNews) – Asian stocks closed broadly higher on Friday after data indicated that Merck and Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pills were effective against the Omicron variant.
Investor sentiment was bolstered by optimism that the Omicron variant could be highly infectious, but less likely to lead to hospitalization.
Another set of bullish economic data in the United States, including improved consumer confidence, higher new home sales and better-than-expected durable goods sales also helped boost investor sentiment.
Chinese stocks fell, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite falling 25.29 points, or 0.69%, to 3,618.05 after a local outbreak of Covid-19.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 30.12 points, or 0.13%, to 23,223.76 after struggling Chinese developer said it would “actively engage with offshore creditors “to develop a viable restructuring plan for its offshore debt.
Japanese stocks dropped their early gains to end on a flat note as investors worried about the first community infections of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Tokyo.
In economic news, November consumer inflation marked the biggest year-over-year increase in nearly two years on the back of soaring fuel costs.
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Thursday the central bank will patiently maintain strong monetary support as inflation remains below targets.
The Nikkei average ended slightly lower at 28,782.59, but posted a weekly gain of 0.8%. The larger Topix Index closed 0.13% lower at 1,986.78.
Shares of companies linked to the economic reopening such as airlines and railways ended lower after four infections with the Omicron variant were confirmed in the Japanese capital.
Australian markets finished firmly in positive territory after various studies suggested a reduction in hospitalizations with the Omicron variant. Closer to home, authorities have said they will further shorten the booster interval for Covid-19 vaccines.
The benchmark S & P / ASX 200 index rose 32.70 points, or 0.44%, to 7,420.30 in shortened trade, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 37.20 points, or 0.48%, to 7,744.70.
Wealth manager AMP jumped 6.4% after announcing the sale of its infrastructure debt division to Ares Management for A $ 428 million ($ 310 million). Energy stocks rose for the fourth day following an overnight surge in oil prices.
Seoul shares rose for a fourth straight session to a week-long high amid Omicron concerns about the impact of the omicron variant on the global economy. Kospi’s average increased 14.26 points, or 0.48%, to 3,012.43.
Major automaker Hyundai Motor grew 3.1% while major chemicals company LG Chem lost more than 2%.
New Zealand stocks edged higher, with the benchmark NZX 50 ending 25.70 points, or 0.20%, at 12,888.41 in the shortened holiday session. Oceania Healthcare tops the list of winners with a 2.3 percent increase.
US stocks rose for the third straight session overnight as another batch of positive economic data and the easing of Omicron concerns boosted sentiment ahead of a long Christmas weekend.
The S&P 500 gained 0.6% to a record closing high, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.9% and the Dow added 0.6%.
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