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Asian shares trading mixed as optimism wears off on US rally

TOKYO, (The Southern African Times) – Asian shares were mixed Monday, as initial euphoria about the gains that closed out last week on Wall Street faded quickly.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.3% to finish at 29,019.24. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost earlier gains, inching down 0.2% to 7,281.90. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4% to 3,252.62. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.5% to 28,779.65, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2% to 3,599.54. 

Worries about the coronavirus pandemic remain strong in the region, in contrast to the U.S. and parts of Europe, where life is increasingly returning to something resembling normalcy, but the vaccine rollout is gradually picking up steam in Asia. 

China reported its exports rose 28% from a year earlier in May while imports jumped 51%, though the pace of increase is slowing after huge gains early in the year.

Much of the regional economy depends of exports to the West and the retreat of the pandemic there is a boost to countries in Asia that are battling severe coronavirus outbreaks. . 

“Consensus expectations around activity data being released this week in Asia looks strong,” Venkateswaran Lavanya of the Asia & Oceania Treasury Department at Mizuho Bank in Singapore said in a commentary. 

“The more pertinent question is now whether we can effectively gauge the extent of the recovery, or a lack thereof, in these economies.” 

Wall Street closed out last week with a second straight weekly gain for the S&P 500, which rose 0.9% to 4,229.89. It followed a U.S. Labor Department report showing American employers added 559,000 jobs in May.

Technology stocks were biggest gainers and did the most to drive the broader market higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5% to 34,756.39. The rally in technology stocks helped push the Nasdaq to a solid gain. The tech-heavy index climbed 1.5% to 13,814.49. 

Smaller company stocks also notched gains. The Russell 2000 added 0.3% to 2,286.41. 

The pickup in jobs last month is another sign that the economy continues to recover, even as employment remains below pre-pandemic levels. 

Investors have been worried about rising inflation becoming a long-term issue, rather than the temporary effect from the recovering economy. They are also worried that The Fed could consider pulling its support for the economy if inflation runs too hot.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 47 cents to $69.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 81 cents to $69.62 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 60 cents to $71.29 a barrel. 

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar stood unchanged at 109.49 Japanese yen. The euro cost $1.2158, down from $1.2165.

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