Asian shares rise on optimism about Trump's recovery

TOKYO (AP) — Shares rose Monday in Asia as investors were encouraged by positive reports about President Donald Trump’s health after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Trump briefly ventured out in a motorcade on Sunday to salute cheering supporters. Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level had dropped twice in recent days, and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. They also said his health is improving and that he could be discharged as soon as Monday.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.2% to 23,316.08. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.3% to 2,356.80, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 surged 2.4% to 5,932.40. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.5% to 23,801.97. Markets are closed in Shanghai until Friday.

Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, said global markets were focused on Trump’s recovery.

“It is difficult to look beyond the trajectory of U.S. President Trump’s illness in mapping out the contours of price action in the week ahead,” he said in a report.

“By reducing uncertainty around a possible delay to the U.S. presidential election, the initial market reaction should be positive for risk assets, with U.S. equities and oil prices, for example, reversing Friday’s declines,” Innes said.

Fujitsu’s president Takahito Tokita apologized Monday for the breakdown last week in the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s trading system, which the Japanese company had developed.

The mechanical failure caused all trading to be halted in Tokyo on Oct. 1. It was fixed, and trading on the world’s third largest equity market resumed the following day.

Speaking at an online Webinar for a digital transformation at Fujitsu, Tokita promised to work with the exchange to prevent a recurrence of the malfunction in the vast Arrowhead system.

“We have caused great trouble, and we apologize from the bottom of our hearts,” he said.

On Friday, the S&P 500 slumped 1.7% as soon as trading began, only to churn through another turbulent session. By the end of the day, it had trimmed its loss to 1%, closing at 3,348.42. Despite the drop, most of the stocks in the index were higher.

The paring of losses on Wall Street late last week came as optimism rose that Washington may be able to get past its partisanship to deliver more support for the economy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told airlines aid for them is imminent. She said a wider rescue package for the economy could also perhaps be on the way.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 27,682.81, down 0.5%.

Trump’s positive COVID-19 test highlights the continued spread of the pandemic. The potential for outbreaks to escalate as cold weather forces people indoors is raising worries that governments may put some more restrictions on businesses.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 89 cents to $37.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.67 to $37.05 on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 83 cents to $40.10 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar inched up to 105.55 yen from 105.34 yen. The euro cost $1.1733, up from $1.1717.