Asia shares rise despite ongoing pandemic, inflation worries

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Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Asian shares rose Tuesday, partly on bargain-hunting from the recent global market falls amid continuing pessimism about the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

BEIJING – Asian shares rose Tuesday, partly on bargain-hunting from the recent global market falls amid continuing pessimism about the conronavirus pandemic.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 2.1% in morning trading to 28,412.06. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.1% to 3,169.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.8% to 7,078.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.3% to 28,551.53, while the Shanghai Composite inched up nearly 0.1% to 3,519.58.

Regional markets shrugged off the latest gross domestic product data out of Japan, showing the world's third largest economy contracted at an annualized rate of 5.1% in January-March, its worst pace since World War II. Analysts had expected the GDP results and don't see the situation improving soon.

Yeap Jung Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore, said Asian markets were seeking “to rebound from weakness over concerns on virus resurgences.” Although Asia has fared better in curbing infections and COVID-19 related deaths, compared to the U.S. and parts of Europe, worries have been growing about recent surges in coronavirus cases.

U.S. stocks slipped on Monday, tacking more losses onto last week’s stumble, as worries about inflation continue to dog Wall Street.

The S&P 500 dipped 10.56, or 0.3%, to 4,163.29, with tech stocks and other former market darlings once again taking the brunt of the losses. The benchmark index is coming off a 1.4% weekly drop from its record high, which would have been even worse if not for a late rebound.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.34, or 0.2%, to 34,327.79, while the Nasdaq composite lost 50.93, or 0.4%, to 13,379.05.

Most stocks in the S&P 500 fell, but pockets of strength helped limit the damage. Energy stocks jumped as the price of crude oil rose, while producers of metals and other raw materials also climbed. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks inched up 2.49, or 0.1%, to 2,227.12.