Asian stocks mixed after Wall St rally ahead of US debate

Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street rallied ahead of a U.S. presidential election debate

Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo advanced Hong Kong and Sydney declined.

Overnight, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index gained 1.6%, led by big tech stocks.

“This is welcome cheer, but does not redeem equities from a negative September,” said Mizuho Bank in a report. With no obvious catalyst, its analysts questioned whether the rise was driven by little more than “month-end short-covering,” or traders buying stocks to fulfill commitments to re-sell them.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 3,231.89 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 0.5% to 23,348.01.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo edged 0.1% higher to 23,539.10. The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.8% to 2,326.41 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was off 0.2% at 5,941.20.

India’s Sensex opened down 0.3% at 37,885.55. New Zealand and Bangkok declined while Singapore and Jakarta gained.

Shares in Japanese telecoms giant NTT Corp. fell 2.7% after reports said it plans to take over its mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo and take it private. DoCoMo said it would announce news after a board meeting Tuesday.

Tech stocks led an earlier rebound in global share prices, but investors began to worry they were overpriced, leading to a new sell-off.

Investors confidence has been supported by infusions of central bank credit into struggling economies and hopes for development of a coronavirus vaccine.

However, the U.S. Congress still is arguing over the size of a new support package after additional unemployment benefits that helped to support consumer spending that powers the biggest global economy expired.

Investors were awaiting Tuesday’s 90-minute televised Trump-Biden debate. It comes amid trade tension with China and rising coronavirus deaths. Tens of millions of Americans are out of work.

The debate outcome is “not necessarily all that market relevant,” said Robert Carnell of ING in a report.

“With a reasonable polling lead, one could argue that Joe Biden has more to lose here than President Trump,” said Carnell. He said with some potential for gaffes or other colorful moments, the debate might be “cringe-worthy but unlikely to deliver an electoral car-crash for either side.”

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 3,351.60. The index is on track to close out September with a loss of 4.2% after five months of gains.

More than 90% of the stocks in the S&P 500 rose. Several companies announced mergers and acquisitions, helping to buoy prices.

Amazon climbed 2.5%, Apple rose 2.4% and Microsoft gained 0.8%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.5% to 27,584.06. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.9% to 11,117.53.

A monthly unemployment report due out Friday from the government could help to shed light on an economic recovery.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 28 cents per barrel to $40.32 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 26 cents to $42.61 per barrel in London.

The dollar declined to 105.47 yen from Monday’s 105.51 yen. The euro edged up to $1.1677 from $1.1676.