Asian stocks rise but tempered by virus, election fears

Stocks rose Monday, tracking a healthy lead from Wall Street as bargain-buyers moved in following a recent sell-off, though advances were limited by worries about fresh virus spikes and the reimposition of economically damaging containment measures.

Traders are also awaiting the first US presidential debate this week, which could prove crucial in determining November's election, with many worried that a close vote might mean the result is delayed or even challenged by the loser.

Tech firms led strong gains in New York as a new surge in infections forces governments -- particularly in Europe -- to put new stay-at-home orders in place, leading investors to bet people will use their computers more.

And as the death toll from the disease topped one million, the World Health Organization warned that figure could double without more global collective action.

However, while many leaders are unveiling fresh fiscal measures to support their economies, US lawmakers remain at loggerheads over a second rescue package, with Democrats and Republicans miles apart on their proposals.

"The doomy mood music's soundboard remains tuned to growing concerns about rising Covid-19 case counts and whether policymakers have ammunition to react," said AxiCorp's Stephen Innes.

"In the US, this has centred on whether further fiscal stimulus might be forthcoming before the election."

Still, Asian markets were in positive territory.

Tokyo ended the morning session 0.7 percent higher, while Seoul and Taipei both rallied more than one percent. Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore and Manila were also in positive territory.

Hong Kong also rallied, though China's biggest chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) tumbled more than seven percent on weekend reports that the US has placed export controls on it, marking the latest salvo in the battle for tech dominance between the superpowers.

There was some cheer from news that profits at China's biggest industrial firms grew for a fourth straight month, indicating the world's number two economy is getting back on track after leaders brought the virus under control.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 23,371.70 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 23,372.39

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,226.13

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1634 from $1.1626 at 2030 GMT on Friday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2772 from $1.2739

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.37 yen from 105.59 yen

Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.09 pence from 91.23 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.5 percent at $40.07 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $41.77 per barrel

New York - Dow Jones: UP 1.3 percent at 27,173.96 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 5,842.67 points (close)

Topics: Wall Street , AxiCorp , Stephen Innes , Stocks , Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp , World Health Organization , COVID-19
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