Asia Pacific stocks set to trade higher as S&P 500 hits another all-time high

Stocks in Asia Pacific were set to rise at the Tuesday open after the S&P 500 touched another record high overnight on Wall Street.

Futures pointed to a higher open for stocks in Japan. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 23,155 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 23,150. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 22,985.51.

Shares in Australia were also set for a positive start, with the SPI futures contract at 6,132.0, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,129.60.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 rose 1% to 3,431.28 and hit an all-time high, with Monday also marking the index’s first-ever close above 3,400. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 378.13 points, or 1.4%, to end its trading day at 28,308.46. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.6% to close at 11,379.72 and also reached a record.

The moves upward came on the back of positive sentiment surrounding the coronavirus pandemic situation in the U.S., with data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showing newly confirmed virus infections falling under 37,000 and have been below 50,000 since mid-August.

The Food and Drug Administration also approved the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for coronavirus patients, though scientists and public health officials have raised doubts over its effectiveness as a treatment. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is also reportedly considering fast-tracking an experimental vaccine from the U.K.

In corporate developments, shares of Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical will be watched on Tuesday after the firm on Monday announced the sale of its Japan Consumer Health Care Business Unit to Blackstone for 242 billion Japanese yen ($2.28 billion). 

Takeda CEO Christophe Weber said the company’s decision to sell its Japanese over-the-counter (OTC) unit was due to the difficulty for the pharmaceutical firm to continue investing in OTC businesses while also attempting to develop new drugs for more serious diseases, according to an online briefing cited by Reuters.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.298 after bouncing earlier from levels below 93.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.97 per dollar after seeing levels below 105.5 against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7165 following a decline yesterday from levels around $0.72.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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