Asian stock markets mostly advanced on a data-light Monday as the rally on Wall Street boosted risk appetite, but Japan’s benchmark index erased earlier gains and turned negative on news of a possible Ebola case in Tokyo.
With the absence of data releases, attention fell on Malaysia’s budget carrier AirAsia, whose shares tumbled 7.5 percent to a four-week low of 2.720 ringgit at 1440 SIN/HK, after briefly opening down 12 percent to its lowest level since November 28. The stock’s dismal performance follows the vanishing of flight QZ8501 bound to Singapore from Indonesia early Sunday.
Malaysia’s benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI index, where AirAsia is listed, inched up 0.1 percent in the afternoon session.
Nikkei falls 0.5%
Japanese shares surrendered early gains following an announcement by the health ministry that a man in Tokyo is being tested for possible Ebola infection. The Japanese man had returned to Japan from Sierra Leone earlier this month, where he stayed for eight days.
In the morning session, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index clinched a three-week high of 17,914 as traders digested news from Saturday that Japan’s government approved stimulus spending worth $29 billion. Also boosting sentiment was a Reuters survey which showed that top Japanese firms are planning to use their cash reserves to boost shareholder returns in 2015.
Fujifilm Holdings was one of the exceptions which benefited from the Ebola news. The firm which said in November that it expected its Ebola-related drug to be approved as soon as the end of 2014, added 0.4 percent.
The yen, which was nearly flat after trading in a tight range all day, curbed gains in exporters. Toyota Motor reversed gains to settle down 0.4 percent, while Suzuki Motor and Nintendo extended losses to lose nearly 2 percent each.