Asia Leaps on Virus Vaccine Hopes

Stocks in Asia Pacific rose on Thursday, following positive news overnight about the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index was positive 24.23 points, or 0.1%, to 22,145.96.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.41 per U.S. dollar following its strengthening yesterday from around the 108 mark against the greenback.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index thundered ahead 697 points, or 2.9%, to 25,124.19.

Shares of Chinese internet giant Tencent soared 4% while Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing skyrocketed 6.1%.

Tensions in the city were closely watched after China’s controversial national security law went into effect and Hong Kong police announced their first arrests under the measure. Police said in a tweet that they arrested about 370 people Wednesday, of which 10 were for alleged national security law breaches.

Meanwhile, Australian stocks jumped. Trade surplus for May came in at 8.025 billion Australian dollars ($5.55 billion U.S.) on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the country’s bureau of statistics. That was below expectations of a trade surplus of nine billion Australian dollars.

The Australian dollar was at $0.6931 after bouncing from levels below $0.69 yesterday.

Investors watched for reaction to a recent study of a coronavirus candidate being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech that showed the drug created neutralizing antibodies. The results, which were posted online, have yet to be reviewed by a medical journal.

A top World Health Organization official warned Wednesday that certain countries may need to reimplement lockdowns. In the U.S., more than 12 states have paused or rolled back their reopenings following a recent spike in cases. Globally, more than 10 million people have been infected by the coronavirus and at least 511,000 lives have been taken, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gained 88.06 points, or 2.1%, to 4,335.84.

In Korea, the Kospi climbed 28.67 points, or 1.4%, to 2,135.37

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 26.52 points, or 1%, to 2,636.69

In Taiwan, the Taiex index acquired 101.72 points, or 0.9%, to 11,502.52

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 was positive 152.26 points, or 1.3%, to 11,502.52.

In Australia, the ASX 200 jumped 98.32 points, or 1.7%, to 6,032.71.