Asia Markets: Asian markets gain, despite Hong Kong economy posting worst quarter since 1974

Asia Markets

A restaurant customer sits alone amid social distancing measures in Hong Kong in March.

Bloomberg News

Asian markets gained in early trading Tuesday, though many of the region’s largest indexes were closed for holidays.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index

rose 0.5% after an official report found Hong Kong’s economy shrank 8.9% year-over-year in the first quarter, its worst showing since 1974. While saying the coronavirus outbreak appears to be under control locally, “the external environment is still very challenging,” Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a statement. “Going forward in the second quarter, we believe that even if there is improvement, the improvement will be gradual and small.”

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

gained 0.9% as the country starts reopening businesses from a weeks-long lockdown. The Reserve Bank of Australia was scheduled to announce its interest-rate decision later in the day. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan

, Singapore

and Indonesia

advanced. Markets were closed in Japan, South Korea and mainland China for public holidays.

Markets didn’t appear fazed by rising tensions between the U.S. and China over the spread of COVID-19. “The market is quickly desensitizing to the trade war bluster writing it off as political posturing,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, wrote in a note. “But it remains to be seen if yesterday’s equity market weakness was a bump in the road or the start of something more sinister as coronavirus blame-game and a looming U.S. presidential election are a toxic recipe for U.S.-China relations.”

U.S. stock index futures gained Monday night, after an afternoon rally on Wall Street left major benchmarks in positive territory after early-session declines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

managed a gain of 26.07 points, or 0.1%, to end at 23,749.76, well off its session low at 23,361.16. the S&P 500

gained 12.03 points, or 0.4%, finishing at 2,842.74, while the Nasdaq Composite

rose 105.77 points, or 1.2%, closing at 8,710.71.

U.S. oil prices rallied above $20 a barrel Monday, and gained in electronic trading overnight after some U.S. oil companies cut production amid a slump in demand. West Texas Intermediate crude oil for June

delivery was up more than 7%, while Brent crude

, the global benchmark, rose nearly 5%.

The dollar

was little changed against the Japanese yen.

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