Asia petrochemical shares higher on Wall Street rally, vaccine hopes

Author: Nurluqman Suratman

2020/07/15

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian petrochemical shares were higher on Wednesday, tracking the rally on Wall Street overnight with risk appetite further bolstered by optimism over a coronavirus vaccine.

News of fresh stimulus plans in the EU, Japan and South Korea also supported investor sentiment.

At 03:25 GMT, Mitsui Chemicals was up more than 2% in Tokyo, LG Chem was 1.50% higher in Seoul and Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp inched up 0.14% in Taipei.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose more than 1%, South Korea's KOSPI Composite Index was up by 0.64% and Singapore's Straits Times Index was 1.05% higher.

Company/Stock Exchange % Change
Nikkei 225 (Tokyo) 1.44%
Asahi Kasei Corp 0.89%
JXTG Holdings, Inc 1.85%
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp 1.33%
Mitsui Chemicals, Inc 2.27%
Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong) -0.09%
Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical 0.00%
PetroChina -0.37%
KOSPI Composite Index (Seoul) 0.64%
OCI Company 0.57%
SK Innovation -2.34%
LG Chem 1.50%
Lotte Chemical Corp 0.28%
Hanwha Corp 1.70%
TSEC weighted index (Taipei) 0.66%
Formosa Petrochemical Corp -1.06%
Nan Ya Plastics Corp 0.00%
Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp 0.14%
STI Index (Singapore) 1.05%
Wilmar International 0.71%
Olam International 1.52%
FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (Kuala Lumpur) 0.20%
SSE Composite Index (Shanghai) -1.30%
Jakarta Composite Index 0.16%
PT. Chandra Asri Petrochemical Tbk 2.55%
SET Index (Thailand) 0.59%
PTT Global Chemical 0.00%
Indorama Ventures 3.88%
IRPC -0.74%
The Siam Cement 0.79%
Thai Oil 0.60%

Major US equity indexes regained some footing on Tuesday following a late-session sell-off in the previous day, on news that Florida and California reported declines in number of coronavirus infections.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2.13% higher, the 30-stock average’s best day since 29 June as well as its third straight daily gain; while the S&P 500 climbed 1.34% and Nasdaq rose 0.94%.

In Asia, Japan is expected to soon approve a new coronavirus relief package of more than yen (Y) 100tr ($93bn) following the Y117tr plan unveiled last month.

The country has so far unveiled plans to spend about Y234tr, or about 40% of its GDP, to cushion the world’s third-biggest economy against the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy steady on Wednesday as it expects the economy to "improve gradually from the second half of this year".

The central bank previously eased its monetary policy in March and April.

"Japan's economy has been in an extremely severe situation with the impact of Covid-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] remaining at home and abroad, although economic activity has resumed gradually," the BoJ said in a statement.

South Korea is planning to increase spending for President Moon Jae-in’s “New Deal” program to won (W) 160tr ($133bn), more than double the previous plan of W76tr.

The plan unveiled on 13 July underlines the government’s goal to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and envisions creation of 1.9m new jobs over the next five years.

The South Korean government will shoulder W114.1tr of the new spending plan, while local governments and the private sector will contribute W25.2tr and W20.7tr, respectively.

Investor sentiment in Asia was also boosted by news that Moderna Inc's experimental vaccine for the coronavirus has induced immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study.

The US-based biotechnology firm was the first to start human testing of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus on 16 March this year.

But spiking virus cases in some parts of Asia has prompted re-imposition of strict measures, including in Hong Kong, and in about a dozen states in India.

The northern Indian state of Bihar with a population of 125m has extended pandemic-related curbs up to end-July.

Japan on Wednesday raised its alert level for coronavirus infections in Tokyo  as daily coronavirus cases in the capital have exceeded 200 in four of the last six days, according to local Asahi newspaper.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday following news of a sharper-than-expected drop in US crude inventories.

$/bbl (As of 03:59 GMT) Last Price % Change Net Change Close High Low
Sept Brent 43.1 0.47% 0.2 42.9 43.18 42.95
Aug US WTI 40.47 0.45% 0.18 40.29 40.86 40.38

US crude inventories fell by 8.3m barrels in the week to 10 July, according to data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute.

Investors await the OPEC's Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meeting later on Wednesday on possible output cut extension.

($1 = Y107.2; $1 = W1,202)

Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

Photo: A model of COVID-19, known as coronavirus, is seen ahead of a US Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the plan to research, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US. 2 July 2020
(Source: Shutterstock)

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