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Asian Stocks Up Despite COVID-19 Uncertainty

By Gina Lee – Asian stock markets were up on Tuesday with modest gains despite the economic uncertainty unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.89% by 10:23 PM ET (3:23 AM GMT). Conglomerate Softbank Group (T:9984) saw its shares gain 2.95% as they rallied from an earlier drop of more than 3% the day before. The company announced that its Vision Fund expected to see a loss of JPY 1.8 trillion ($16.69 billion) for the 2019 fiscal year due to a “deteriorating market environment.”

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.57% while the Shenzhen Component was up 0.93%. with Chinese trade data for March set to be released later in the day.

Investors will be taking a close look at the data as Wuhan lifted its three-month lockdown in the previous week.

South Korea’s KOSPI gained 1.6% as the country prepares to vote for its National Assembly representatives on Wednesday.

The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.49% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up by 0.4% as investors resumed work from the four-day Easter weekend.

But some investors are skeptical as companies enter into a difficult earnings seasons and governments assess the pandemic’s economic damage as the search for a cure continues.

“Companies, analysts, traders, investors and strategists to some extent are ‘flying into earnings season without instruments,’” John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer&Co., told Bloomberg. “The unprecedented nature of the economic shutdown, social distancing and sheltering in place ordered by officials provides an overhang of uncertainty.”

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