France’s CAC 40 added 0.1% in early trading to 6,063.26. Germany’s DAX was up 0.3% at 13,667.35. Britain’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.1% to 7,506.66. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.2% to 29,293. S&P 500 futures gained 0.2% to 3,364.90.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.7% to finish at 23,861.21. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 7,088.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.9% to 27,819.94, while the Shanghai Composite also rose 0.9% to 2,926.90.
“Despite coronavirus concerns, investors tend to believe that central banks and policymakers have measures to stimulate the economy during and post the public health crisis,” said CMC Markets in a report.
China reported 97 more deaths from the new disease, named COVID-19, pushing the total dead past 1,100, even as the country remained largely closed down to prevent its spread. The number of cases worldwide is about 45,000, all but a few hundred in China.
Investor sentiments in Asia were also cheered somewhat by Wall Street, where modest gains overnight nudged the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to all-time highs for the second straight day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished essentially flat.
Investors weighed another batch of mostly solid company earnings reports. Sprint soared after a federal judge cleared a major obstacle to the company being acquired by T-Mobile. Cruise operators, hotels and other companies that focus on travel made solid gains, the latest sign that traders are feeling less worried about the economic impact from the virus outbreak.
Investors are also getting some encouragement from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comment in a report to Congress, that it was too early to assess the threat the virus poses to the U.S. economy, but he noted that the economy “is in a very good place” with strong job creation and moderate growth.
Traders welcomed a federal judge’s decision to reject claims by a group of states arguing T-Mobile’s proposed $26.5 billion buyout of rival Sprint would mean less competition and higher phone bills. Shares in Sprint and T-Mobile rose on Wall Street. Shares of SoftBank, which owns Sprint, jumped in Tokyo trading.
Benchmark crude oil added 74 cents to $50.68 a barrel. It rose 37 cents to settle at $49.94 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained $1.09 to $55.10 a barrel.
The dollar rose to 109.90 Japanese yen from 109.85 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.0914 from $1.0914.