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Asia Pacific stocks higher; new rules on China’s Nasdaq-style ChiNext board launch

Asia Pacific stocks were higher in Monday as developments on the coronavirus pandemic continue to be watched by investors.

In mainland China, the Shanghai composite gained 0.15% to close at about 3,385.64 while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.4% to around 13,666.69. 

The ChiNext rose 2.251% to close at about 3,028.86. The first batch of firms listing on the Nasdaq-style board under its revised IPO system made their debut on Monday and saw staggering gains. Contec Medical Systems jumped more than 1,000% on the day while Ningbo KBE Electrical Technology surged more than 740%.

Under the new listing system, stocks on the ChiNext will be allowed to trade freely in the first five days from their debut. Following which, new regulations will allow stocks on the board to gain or lose up to 20% in a session, as compared with 10% previously.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 1.53% higher, as of its final hour of trading.

In Japan, both the Nikkei 225 closed 0.28% higher at 22,985.51 while the Topix index added 0.19% to end its trading day at 1,607.13. South Korea’s Kospi added 1.1% to close at 2,329.83. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia finished its trading day 0.3% higher at 6,129.60.

Elsewhere, India’s Nifty 50 added 0.9% in afternoon trade. The moves came as the number of coronavirus cases crossed the 3 million mark, according to the latest data by the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. India currently has the third largest number of coronavirus cases globally, behind the U.S. and Brazil, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gained 0.93%.

John Woods, chief investment officer for Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Monday that the firm is currently “neutral” on stocks at the moment.

“We have felt over the last six to eight weeks that there was a likelihood and risk of some sort of pullback particularly inspired by potential geopolitical concerns. We also had the sense that maybe valuations were looking a little stretched and there was likely to be some rotation from U.S. to Europe,” Woods said. Still, he added that the “longer-term picture still looks positive.”

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering fast tracking an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed in the U.K. for use stateside ahead of the nation’s upcoming presidential election, according to a Financial Times report.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.093 after its rise from levels below 92.4 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.82 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 106 against the greenback in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7176 following a decline last week from above $0.724.

Oil prices edged higher in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.7% at $44.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also added 0.66% to $42.62 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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