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Asia Pacific stocks jump as investors shrug off rising coronavirus cases

Stocks in Asia traded higher on Monday morning as investors shrug off concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases stateside.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.34% in early trade as shares of conglomerate Softbank Group and robot maker Fanuc jumped more than 2% each. The Topix index also advanced 1.44%. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6%.

Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.44% as shares of major banks such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac surged more than 2% each.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.24% higher.

The World Health Organization on Sunday reported a record daily rise in global coronavirus cases, according to Reuters. Stateside, Florida on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new coronavirus infections — the highest single day total to date for any U.S. state since the pandemic began in the country.

“Ongoing grim US COVID-19 infection news continues to be summarily ignored,” Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note. Attrill said that was due to “ongoing optimism” surrounding factors such as the “time-line for the discovery and rapid roll-out of an effective vaccine” as well as potential additional policy support for the U.S. economy.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.606 after declining from levels above 96.9 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.90 per dollar following a strengthening from levels above 107.2 against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6942 after turbulent trading last week that saw it swinging between levels below $0.694 to above $0.698.

Oil prices fell in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.06% to $42.78 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also declined 1.16% to $40.08 per barrel.

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