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Asian Stocks Up, Boosted by Corporate Earnings, Positive U.S. Employment Data

Asia Pacific stocks were up on Friday morning, extending gains into a fourth day as investors digested corporate earnings and positive U.S. employment data.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.36% by 9:41 PM ET (2:41AM GMT). South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.65%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 rose 1.04% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.95%

China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.90% and the Shenzhen Component was up 0.70%.

Asian shares followed their U.S. counterpart, which saw record highs during the previous session. Ebay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) and  PayPal Holdings Inc . (NASDAQ:PYPL) saw their shares surge on upbeat forecasts, and Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares saw gains after raising its service prices in Japan.

Bullish sentiment in U.S. stocks remains on “solid footing” as a rebound in activity and corporate profits as well as accommodative U.S. Federal Reserve policy create a supportive environment for equities, UBS Group AG (SIX:UBSG) analysts said.

Positive U.S. employment data released on Thursday also boosted investor sentiment. The data said that 779,000 initial jobless claims were filed over the past week, fewer than the 830,000 claims predicted in forecasts prepared by and the 812,000 claims reported during the previous week. Further jobs data, including non-farm payrolls, is due later in the day.

“We certainly seem to have shifted our focus back to fundamentals ...the virus news is getting incrementally better at the very same time that the earnings season and economic data seem to be showing some improvement. Markets are actually focusing on what we’re supposed to be focused on and less concerned about the machinations of getting fiscal policy out and what’s going on in Reddit-land,” National Securities Corp. chief market strategist Arthur Hogan told Bloomberg.

Meanwhile,  GameStop Corp . (NYSE:GME) shares tumbled for a second day, with the weekly drop exceeding 80% as retail traders flocked to new targets, including small drug developers. The market volatility seen during the previous week, driven by social media forum Reddit, has calmed down but investors are fearful of a second round, this time in Asia.

One country under scrutiny is South Korea, with investors worried that the country’s COVID-19-induced ban on short-selling has artificially propped up the country’s recent stock market rally. The ban, the world’s longest such measure, was extended earlier in the week thanks to pressure from retail investors. However, worries remain that the move could backfire.

Other countries have started lifting similar restrictions, with Indonesia due to lift its ban later in the month. France, which introduced a ban in early 2020, lifted them after only a few months.

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Feb 5, 2020