Japan's benchmarkNikkei 225 rose0.9% to finish at 23,400.70.Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4% to 7,144.60. South Korea's Kospiedged up 0.1% to 2,210.34.Hong Kong's Hang Seng added0.5% to 27,655.81,while the Shanghai Composite gave up earlier gains, edging 0.3% lower to 2,975.40.
Adding to optimism, new virus cases in China have been falling, with 1,749 new infections and 136 new deaths announced on Wednesday. But data are showing disruptions continue to manufacturing, retailing and tourism.
“Collapse in demand due to COVID-19 remains the key worry for the markets across the globe as the disease continues its spread,” said Prakash Sakpal, economist for Asia at ING. Japan reported its third straight month trade deficits in January and like the rest of Asia is enduring a downturn in tourism. Some controls have been set on travel to and from China and other places suffering from outbreaks of the virus.
Trade is likely to be a “major drag” on Japan's economic growth this quarter, Tom Learmouth of Capital Economics said in a commentary. He is forecasting a 0.6% decrease in GDP in the January-March quarter linked to disruptions from the virus.
The gains in Asian trading followed a modest loss on U.S. stock indexes, which gave up some of their solid gains from the past two weeks. ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 68cents to $52.73a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 74 cents to $58.49a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to110.48Japanese yen from 109.87 yen on Tuesday. The euro inched up to$1.0798from $1.0792.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama