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Asian Stocks Mixed, Biden Passes $1.9 Trillion, “Rocket Fuel” Stimulus into Law

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By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mixed Friday morning, with investors cheering the passage of the U.S.’s massive stimulus package that drove the S&P 500 Index to a record high.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.71% by 10:17 PM ET (3:17 AM GMT). The city tightened mask-wearing rules as a cluster of COVID-19 cases involving a gym in the Sai Ying Pun area continues to grow. Schools suspended in-person classes temporarily, and workplaces encouraged working from home as their employees were linked to the cluster.

China’s Shanghai Composite inched down 0.06% and the Shenzhen Component slid 1%.

South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1.01%, with e-commerce giant Coupang Inc. (NYSE:CPNG) rising 41% as it listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.08% and in Australia, the ASX 200 gained 0.81%.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion package into law on Thursday, ahead of schedule. He also aims to have all American adults vaccine-eligible by May.

The Biden administration earlier warned some suppliers to Huawei Technologies Co. of tighter conditions on their previously approved export licenses.

A smooth auction of ten-year Treasury benchmark and 30-year notes also allayed concerns of another potential increase in yields.

“The administration has slipped a little bit of extra fuel to the equity markets with their bill. It’s going to be rocket fuel … we’re headed to new highs because of all that stimulus money that’s being put out there and it’s more broad-based than the first couple of stimulus programs,” TIAA Bank president of world markets Chris Gaffney told Bloomberg.

The prospect of the biggest U.S. economic growth since the 1980s has given risk assets a further shot in the arm. With inflation fears easing after Wednesday’s core consumer prices data. The U.S. will release further data, including February’s Producer Price Index as well as Michigan Consumer Expectations and Michigan Consumer Sentiment for March, later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank (ECB) boosted optimism as it handed down its policy decision on Thursday. The central bank pledged to accelerate bond purchases to stem the impact of rising bond yields on the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

Improved investor sentiment also saw oil trade near the $70 mark. In cryptocurrency news, Bitcoin dropped below $57,000 after almost reaching another record high.

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