Hong Kong, South Korea lead gains as Asia-Pacific markets trade mixed – CNBC

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific traded mixed on Tuesday as investors await remarks from U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led gains among the region’s major markets as it jumped 3.06% by the afternoon, with shares of HSBC listed in the city rising 3.92% while Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing soared about 6%.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced an extension of social distancing measures in the city after coronavirus infections returned to triple digits, according to Reuters.

South Korea’s Kospi also saw robust gains, rising 2.36% as shares of automaker Hyundai Motor surged about 6%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.38% while the Topix index advanced 0.57%.

Mainland Chinese stocks, on the other hand, lagged: The Shanghai composite was flat while the Shenzhen component dipped 0.749%.

Shares in Australia saw gains, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 1.15%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.64%.

Yellen remarks awaited

Former Federal Reserve Chair Yellen will tell the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the country is headed for a major recession unless they “act big,” according to a copy of her prepared remarks obtained by NBC News.

“Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big. In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs,” Yellen will say.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that Yellen is expected to make clear that the U.S. doesn’t seek a weaker dollar.

On the coronavirus front, the head of the World Health Organization warned Monday of a “catastrophic moral failure” due to unfair vaccine rollouts.

Markets stateside were closed on Monday for a holiday.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.675 — higher then levels below 90.4 seen last week.

The Japanese yen was at 103.99 per dollar, still stronger then levels above 104.1 against the greenback seen in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.771, off levels above $0.775 seen late last week.

Oil prices were mixed in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.49% to $55.02 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were about 0.1% lower at $52.29 per barrel.

— This article was updated to accurately reflect the moves of the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia.

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