Asian shares mostly climb amid tug of war between hope, fear

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In this photo, provided by the New York Stock Exchange, specialist Dilip Patel, left, works with a trader on the floor of the NYSE, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. U.S. stocks are drifting in mixed trading on Thursday, as Wall Street's tug of war continues between worries about the worsening pandemic in the present and optimism that a vaccine will come in the future. (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

BEIJING – Asian shares mostly rose in muted trading Friday after Wall Street eked out modest gains amid a tug of war between worries about the worsening pandemic in the present and optimism that a vaccine will rescue the economy in the future.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.5% in morning trading to 25,507.95. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.1% to 6,554.40. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3% to 2,554.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained nearly 0.2% to 26,405.20, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed, inching down less than 0.1% to 3,361.90.

Investors were looking ahead to data that will be out next week on the health of regional economies, including India, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, and also Taiwan and Singapore.

“The focus next week in Asia will be the extent of India’s bounce back in the third quarter, as the data in October underscores the renewed threat to the region from the second wave of the pandemic,” said Prakash Sakpal, senior economist Asia at ING.

Japan, which is heading to a three-day weekend, has had its optimism dashed by record daily COVID-19 cases. Although Japan has had fewer deaths related to the pandemic — under 2,000 — compared to harder-hit nations, worries are growing about a need for stricter restrictions on travel and anti-infection measures.

On Wall Street on Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.4% after spending much of the day flipping between small losses and gains. The benchmark index was coming off a 1.2% slide from the day before that pulled it away from its record of 3,626.91 set on Monday. The late-afternoon burst of buying erased nearly all of the S&P 500's losses for the week.

Technology companies accounted for much of the rebound. Companies that rely on consumer spending and communications stocks also helped lift the market, outweighing losses in the utilities and health care sectors. Treasury yields fell, a sign of caution in the market.

The S&P 500 gained 14.08 points to 3,581.87. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 44.81 points, or 0.2%, to 29,483.23. The index had been down 210 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 103.11 points, or 0.9%, to 11,904.71.