Asian stock markets follow Wall Street higher

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2020 file photo, the Wall St. street sign is framed by American flags flying outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Stocks are slipping in early trading on Wall Street Thursday, Aug. 20, following discouraging data about the economy, as the number of layoffs sweeping the country picks up again. The S&P 500 was down 0.2% after the first 20 minutes of trading, following up on sharper losses for stock markets overseas. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BEIJING – Asian stock markets rose Monday after Wall Street hit a new high despite lingering unease about a possible second wave of coronavirus infections.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and South Korea advanced.

Global markets have recovered most of this year’s losses despite rising infection numbers in the United States, Brazil and some other countries.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index ended last week up 0.7%, though the majority of stocks in the index declined. The gain was driven by the strength of technology stocks.

Forecasters say the recovery might be too early to be sustained by uncertain economic activity. Major market benchmarks have been lifted by outperformance by big companies, while smaller stocks still are down.

The global economy “offers few reasons to be upbeat,” said Mizuho Bank in a report.

If a “second wave” of infections hits, renewed curbs on business and travel “could hamper the trajectory of economic recovery,” the bank said.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,391.99 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.3% to 22,996.97. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.6% to 25,513.06.

The Kospi in Seoul was 0.9% higher at 2,326.11 and Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.1% to 6,118.60. New Zealand and Singapore advanced while Indonesia declined.

Stocks have powered higher despite signs economic growth in the United States and Europe might be weakening.

Investors have been encouraged by central bank efforts to support growth with infusions of credit. Many are trying to look beyond the end of the pandemic to pick companies that will emerge stronger. That has led many to pile into tech stocks.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 3,397.16. It ended the week up 0.7%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.7% to 27,930.33. The Nasdaq composite added 0.4% to 11,311.80.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude gained 2 cents to $42.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 48 cents on Friday to settle at $42.34. Brent crude, the international standard, was unchanged at $44.35 per barrel in London. It lost 55 cents the previous session.

The dollar held steady at 105.80 yen. The euro was little-changed at $1.1796.