By Gina Lee
Investing.com – Asian stocks were mostly up on Tuesday morning, following the U.S. market’s lead after U.S. President Donald Trump was discharged from hospital and with the country’s lawmakers moving closer to passing the latest stimulus measures.
Trump, who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus during the previous week alongside wife Melania Trump, returned to the White House on Monday after a three-night stay at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
However, White House physician Sean Conley warned that Trump may “not be out of the woods yet” and he will remain under medical surveillance.
Trump’s brush with COVID-19 has increased the uncertainty of a clear winner in the Nov. 3 presidential election, also increasing the chances of a close election and messy legal battles between Trump and Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Meanwhile, the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will take place on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed the measures, among other topics, during a phone call on Tuesday. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also said that potential for an agreement between the Republicans and Democrats on more economic relief measures is still there, and Trump is also committed to seeing the measures passed. However, with COVID-19 spreading among key policy maker figures, including Trump, investors’ optimism is also tinged with caution.
But some investors stressed the need for additional stimulus measures to be passed as the number of COVID-19 cases, in both the U.S. and globally, continues to tick upwards.
“Investors are likely running with the idea that recent data and President Trump’s firsthand experience with the virus increases the odds of another fiscal package … it is becoming harder to deny the need for additional fiscal support,” EP Wealth Advisors director of portfolio strategy Adam Phillips told Bloomberg.
In Australia, the ASX 200 inched down 0.06% by 11:15 PM ET (3:15 AM GMT), reversing some earlier gains. The Reserve Bank of Australia will hand down its policy decision, and the government also handing down the budget, later in the day.
Although the central bank is expected to keep its benchmark interest rates unchanged at 0.25%, there are expectations of a cut to 0.10% in some corners.
“There’s some tentativeness,” CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy told Reuters, especially in Australia ahead of the two events.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.39% and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.58%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.56%. Chinese markets are closed for a holiday.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and European Central Bank (ECB) chief economist Philip Lane will deliver keynote addresses at the NABE conference. The Fed and ECB will both release minutes from their respective September meetings on Wednesday.