Asian Stocks Mostly Up, Focus on U.S. Stimulus and Fed Policy Decision By

© Reuters.

By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Wednesday morning after their biggest slide in two months during the previous sessions. Investors continue to digest U.S. earnings reports alongside COVID-19 virus variants and hurdles to the passage of more U.S. Stimulus measures.

In Australia, the was down 0.78% by 10:36 PM ET (3:36 AM GMT) after returning from a holiday. Data released earlier today showed that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.9% both and during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Hong Kong’s edged up 0.15%. The city saw a second flash neighborhood lockdown in a small section of Yau Ma Tei implemented and lifted in less than 24 hours.

China’s inched down 0.03% while the inched up 0.07%.

Japan’s was up 0.28%. The country’s state of emergency, currently set to expire on Feb. 7, could reportedly be extended until the end of February.

South Korea’s inched up 0.05%.

Global shares are staying near record highs with the U.S. corporate earnings season gearing up over the course of the week. New COVID-19 variants have prompted governments to impose fresh restrictive measures, such as lockdowns, and weighing in on reflection trades betting on an end to these curbs.

Investors also await answers to questions over the timing and size of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package proposed by U.S, President Joe Biden earlier in the month.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer , a possible first step towards passing the package via the ‘reconciliation’, could take place as early as the following week.

For some investors, COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and economic recovery are the keys to sustaining a rally.

“For the reopening trade to really have persistence it is going to need to show a much broader participation across the market … the virus vaccine rollout is the most important development to help give confidence in the shape of the recovery,” Northern Trust (NASDAQ:) chief investment strategist Jim McDonald told Bloomberg.

Biden’s administration indicated that it intends to order 100 million more doses each of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:) and Moderna Inc.’s (NASDAQ:) COVID-19 vaccines. It will also speed up shipments to states, at least temporarily.

On the COVID-19 front, the number of global cases has exceeded 100 million as of Jan. 27, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The same data showed that the number of deaths in the U.K. passed the 100,00 mark.

Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Federal Reserve will wrap up a two-day policy meeting and hand down its policy decision later in the day. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is widely expected to retain the central bank’s current dovish tone in his comments.

The U.S. will release a slew of economic data, including , and , on Thursday. , and data will be released a day later.

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