Wall Street rally, Japan election drive Asian shares higher

Oct 31, 2021, 8:56 PM | Updated: 9:00 pm

Stocks advanced in Asia on Monday, with Tokyo’s benchmark up 2.2% after the ruling Liberal Democrats won a stronger than expected majority in an election Sunday.

Shares rose in all regional markets except Hong Kong.

The regional gains followed further milestones on Wall Street, where the three major indexes set records. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3% and the Nasdaq closed 0.3% higher.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s coalition kept a comfortable majority in Sunday’s parliamentary election despite losing some seats as his weeks-old government grapples with a coronavirus-battered economy and regional security challenges.

“This removes a key political overhang that has been weighing on market sentiments . . . and drives risk-on moves in the Japanese market,” Jun Rong Yeap of IG said in a commentary.

Kishida is expected to draw up a package of government spending and other measures to boost growth. He has backed away from earlier comments suggesting he favors raising the capital gains tax, a move that would largely tax the wealthy. Suggesting that might be one way to address growing inequality in Japan wilted share prices just after he took office.

Shares have since rebounded amid signs Kishida’s administration will likely continue the market-supporting policies of his predecessors Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index surged 645.46 points to 29,538.15, while the Kospi in Seoul gained 0.4% to 2,983.59. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.7% to 7,371.10. The Shanghai Composite index edged less than 0.1% higher, to 3,549.61.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.2% to 25,084.11 as investor concerns over financial risks for property developers added to worries over the economic outlook.

Wall Street logged its best month in nearly a year in October, as investors balanced encouraging company earnings growth against concerns over rising inflation and supply chain disruptions.

The S&P 500 rose 8.96 points to 4,605.38 — another new high. The Dow added 89.08 points to 35,819.56, while the Nasdaq gained 50.27 points to 15,498.39.

The Russell 2000 index of small companies slipped less than 0.1% to 2,297.19.

A wide range of companies, most recently Apple and Amazon, have flagged challenges due to rising costs or supply chain problems.

Apple fell 1.8% a day after the iPhone maker reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue fell short of analysts’ forecasts because supply shortages are making it difficult to meet demand. Internet retail behemoth Amazon shed 2.2% after higher costs and supply chain problems crimped its third-quarter financial results and its revenue forecast.

The latest data from the Commerce Department showed American consumer spending grew just 0.6% in September, a cautionary sign for an economy that remains in the grip of a pandemic and a prolonged bout of high inflation.

Outside of earnings, investors were looking ahead to this week’s meeting of the Federal Reserve as the central bank moves closer to trimming bond purchases that have helped keep interest rates low.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 40 cents to $83.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up 24 cents to $83.57 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the basis for international pricing, lost 31 cents to $83.41 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 114.19 Japanese yen from 114.07 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1554 from $1.1566.

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Wall Street rally, Japan election drive Asian shares higher