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25 Jan 2021 | 10:43

Asia report: Markets higher as China beats US for foreign investment

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished positive across the board on Monday, as investors kept a watchful eye on the Covid-19 pandemic, as various mutated strains were tracked worldwide. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.67% at 28,822.29, as the yen weakened 0.06% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 103.84.

Fashion firm Fast Retailing was ahead 2.37%, while among the benchmark's other major components, automation specialist Fanuc was down 0.41%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 1.55% weaker.

The broader Topix index advanced 0.29% by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,862.00.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.48% at 3,624.24, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was ahead 0.27% at 2,462.85.

A report released over the weekend by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development revealed that, amid the coronavirus pandemic, China had overtaken the United States as the biggest destination for foreign direct investment.

The People's Republic brought in a total of $163bn in 2020, the report said, well ahead of the $134bn direct investment received by the US.

"With China officially taking the top spot as the number one recipient of foreign direct investment last year, we saw impressive outperformance from the likes of the Hang Seng and CSI 300," said IG senior market analyst Joshua Mahony.

"With Joe Biden likely to take on a more constructive view to US-China relations, we have seen Chinese tech stocks lead the push higher."

South Korea's Kospi gained 2.18% at 3,208.99, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 2.41% firmer at 30,159.01.

Shares in China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group rocketed 51.67%, after Evergrande's electric vehicle division said it had investors lined up for a $3.35bn placing.

China Evergrande itself added 7.27% by the end of the day in Hong Kong.

The blue-chip technology stocks were in the green in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 3% and SK Hynix leaping 5.06%.

The evolving Covid-19 pandemic was once again at the top of the agenda for investors, as mutating strains continued to spread across the world.

Hong Kong's government lifted a lockdown in the Kowloon area on Monday after testing around 7,000 people for infections.

New Zealand, meanwhile, saw a fresh case in the community of the South Africa variant of the coronavirus, several months after its last such infection was detected amid some of the world's strictest border controls.

Oil prices were higher at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 0.7% at $55.80 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 0.82% to $52.70.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 managed gains of 0.36% to close at 6,824.70, while across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was up 0.49% at 13,399.10.

The down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.12% at AUD 1.2942, and the Kiwi advancing 0.39% to NZD 1.3871.
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