By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Wednesday after President Joe Biden reassured investors by calling for vaccinations and testing but no travel curbs in response to the omicron coronavirus variant.
Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced while Shanghai was down less than 0.1%.
Wall Street rose, breaking a three-day decline and recovering the previous day’s losses.
Biden announced the government will provide 500 million free rapid-test kits and increase vaccination efforts but gave no indication of plans for travel bans or other restrictions that might disrupt the economy. Other governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to relax curbs already in place.
Biden “provided some much-needed reassurances for markets,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report.
The Shanghai Composite Index declined to 3,623.14 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 0.2% to 28,562.21. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.2% to 23,004.11.
The Kospi in Seoul added 0.3% to 2,984.48, while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,364.80. India’s Sensex rose 0.7% to 56,699.01.
New Zealand declined while Southeast Asian markets advanced.
Traders were rattled by official statements that omicron was spreading faster than expected after markets had bid up prices of airline, cruise line, oil and other travel-related stocks on expectations tighter controls could be avoided.
That takes place against a backdrop of expectations for tighter U.S. monetary policy after the Federal Reserve indicated last week it will accelerate plans to wind down economic stimulus that has been boosting stock prices. The Fed changed course after inflation rose to a four-decade high of 6.8% in November.
Traders also are worried about the impact of global supply chain disruptions that are fueling fears of higher inflation.
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 rose 1.8% to 4,649.23. The benchmark index is within 1.4% of its Dec. 10 all-time high.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.6% to 35,492.70. The Nasdaq composite gained 2.4% to 15,341.09.
Nearly five stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Citrix Systems climbed 13.6% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Micron Technology jumped 10.5% after the chipmaker gave investors an encouraging profit forecast.
Retailers. restaurant chains and other companies that rely on consumer spending also rose. Tesla climbed 4.3%, Amazon.com rose 2% and Starbucks rose 2.1%.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude climbed 12 cents to $71.24 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.89 on Tuesday to $71.12. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, slipped 2 cents to $73.96 per barrel in London. It gained $2.46 the previous session to $73.98.
The dollar rose to 114.16 yen from Tuesday’s 114.12 yen. The euro fell to $1.1267 from $1.1282.
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