Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher ahead of Brexit vote

Asian stocks followed Wall Street higher on Tuesday as investors awaited Britain’s vote on a plan to leave the European Union.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6% to 3,043.53 points and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.1% to 21,503.69. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.1% to 28,821.14 and Seoul’s Kospi surged 1.0% higher at 2,158.88.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 slipped 0.1% to 6,174.80, while markets in New Zealand, Taiwan and Southeast Asia were higher.

Overnight, gains in tech stocks drove the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its biggest daily gain since January, snapping a five-day losing streak for the S&P, which was coming off its worst weekly stumble this year.

The S&P 500 gained 1.5% to 2,783.30. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.8 percent to 25,650.88. The Nasdaq composite jumped 2% to 7,558.06.

Nvidia rose after agreeing to buy chipmaker Mellanox. Apple benefited from an analyst upgrade.

Boeing Co.’s stock slumped 5.3% after the second fatal crash involving the newest version of its popular 737 jetliner. An Ethiopian Airlines jetliner went down Sunday, killing 157 people. That followed the crash of another 737 Max 8 crashed in Indonesia on October 29 that killed 189 people.

Authorities in Ethiopia, China, Singapore and Indonesia have grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. At one point Monday, Boeing shares slid more than 13%.

British lawmakers were due to vote on Tuesday on a plan to leave the European Union following negotiations in Strasbourg over details including Britain’s border with the Irish Republic.

Britain is due to pull out of the EU in less than three weeks, on March 29, but Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has not been able to win parliamentary approval for its agreement. The impasse has raised fears of a chaotic “no-deal” Brexit that could disrupt businesses in Britain and the 27 remaining EU countries. May said the latest changes should overcome lawmakers’ qualms about a mechanism to keep an open border between Britain’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

“Investors will likely favor risk-taking on positive Brexit news and a strong showing on Wall Street overnight,” Nicholas Mapa and Prakash Sakpal of ING said in a report. “Technology and energy shares are seen to drive the rally in Asia but market players remain wary ahead of China retail sales data later in the week.”


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