SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares rose on Thursday following positive news of a possible treatment for the new coronavirus while oil prices continued to soar on on signs the crude glut in the US is not growing as fast as expected.
At 03:00 GMT, JXTG Holdings was nearly 3% higher in Tokyo, LG Chem rose almost 4% in Seoul and Formosa Petrochemical Corp was up by almost 3% in Taipei.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index was 2.58% higher, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite Index rose 0.70% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index was up by more than 2%.
“Ahead of tomorrow’s May Day holiday across the region, Asian equities are expected to continue their winning streak into this final day of the trading week,” Singapore-based UOB Economics & Markets Research said.
China also heads into the week-long Golden Week holiday from 1-5 May.
“There is also intense focus over the potential rebound in domestic Chinese spending and tourism as Chinese cities emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown across the first quarter,” UOB said.
Japan’s industrial output fell to its lowest since January 2013 in March this year on coronavirus-related disruptions at factories and poor overseas demand, government data showed on Thursday.
The seasonally adjusted index of production at factories and mines fell 3.7% month on month to 95.8 against the 2015 base of 100, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a preliminary report.
The Shanghai Composite Index was up by 1.15% after China reported that manufacturing activity in the country continued to expand in April.
China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dipped to 50.8 in April from 52.0 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Thursday.
The April PMI reading is above the 50.0 mark which indicates expansion in the manufacturing economy.
Overnight, US-listed and European shares of chemical companies rose on Wednesday, after biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences announced more positive results for its coronavirus drug.
The results showed that a five-day treatment of Remdesivir was as effective as one lasting 10 days, Gilead said.
Crude oil prices rose sharply on Thursday, extending the large gains seen in the previous session, after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an unexpected 3.7m barrel decline in gasoline inventories and another uptick in motor gasoline supplied to the market.
The drop in stockpiles fueling hopes that energy demand is turning higher now that many US states have begun the process of reopening their economies.
Investor will now turn to their attention European Central Bank (ECB) which will announce its monetary policy decision later on Thursday.
By: Nurluqman Suratman
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