Asian stocks edged up on Thursday, cheered by record closes in Wall Street benchmarks after encouraging economic data, although investors kept a wary eye on the developments in the coronavirus outbreak.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 1.14% while Japan’s Nikkei rose 2.07%.
Mainland Chinese shares edged up, with the bluechip CSI300 index up 0.87%, helped by policymakers’ efforts to prevent heavy selling, including liquidity injections and de facto restrictions on selling.
On Wall Street, far from the epicenter of the outbreak, the mood was brighter as the S&P 500 gained 1.13% to a record close of 3,334.69 while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.43% to 9,508.68, also a record high.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls jumped 291,000 jobs in January, the most since May 2015, while a separate report showed U.S. services sector activity picked up last month. Both indicators suggest the economy could continue to grow this year even as consumer spending slows.
The World Health Organization played down media reports on Wednesday of “breakthrough” drugs being discovered to treat people infected with the new coronavirus.
Another 73 people on the Chinese mainland died on Wednesday from the virus, the highest daily increase so far, bringing the total death toll to 563, the country’s health authority said on Thursday.
The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield rose back to 1.654% from a five-month low of 1.503% set last Friday.
In the currency market, the safe-haven Swiss franc and the yen retreated.
The franc eased to 0.9738 franc per dollar, having lost 0.4% on Wednesday.
The yen stepped back to 109.98 yen, compared with a three-week high of 108.305 hit on Friday.
The euro stood flat at $1.0998, having shed 0.4% in the previous session.