Asian Shares Follow Wall Street Higher As U.S. Default Worries Ease

Asian stocks advanced on Thursday after U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy underscored their determination to reach a debt ceiling deal soon. This helped ease fears of a potential U.S. debt default as a June 1 deadline looms.

Chinese shares eked out modest gains, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rising 0.4 percent to 3,297.32 after data showed the country’s fiscal revenue rose 11.9 percent in the first four months of 2023 from the year-ago period, up sharply from a 0.5 percent rise in January-March.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.9 percent to 19,727.25, led by technology shares. Alibaba jumped 2.7 percent ahead of its earnings release.

Japanese shares rallied after Sony Group Corp. said it is examining a partial spin-off of its financial business. Dovish signals from the Bank of Japan and data showing a bigger-than-expected drop in Japan’s massive trade deficit also boosted sentiment.

Shares of the conglomerate surged 6.4 percent, helping the Nikkei 225 Index close 1.6 percent higher at a 20-month high of 30,573.93. The broader Topix gained 1.1 percent to close at 2,157.85.

Seoul stocks rose to an over two-week high on easing worries about a U.S. debt default. The Kospi advanced 0.8 percent to 2,515.40, marking its highest level since May 2. Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Mobis jumped 2-3 percent.

Australian markets posted solid gains, as weak jobs data spurred hopes that the Reserve Bank will pause future interest rate hikes.

The Australian economy shed 27,100 full-time jobs last month and the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent from 3.5 percent, according to official data released earlier in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent to 7,236.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.5 percent higher at 7,427.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index edged up 0.2 percent to 11,976.08.

U.S. stocks rallied overnight after regional lender Western Alliance Bancorp came out with a filing showing deposit growth and a statement from the White House said President Biden is “optimistic that there is a path to a responsible, bipartisan budget agreement.”

The Dow and the S&P 500 both climbed around 1.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 1.3 percent to reach a nearly nine-month closing high.

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