Mumbai: Indian stock markets may tick higher on Wednesday, tracking gains in global peers. Asian shares and Wall Street futures nudged higher in early deals on Wednesday amid hope that the worst of the coronavirus in China may have passed, although lingering uncertainty about the outbreak has kept investors wary.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1%. Australian shares were up 0.27%, while Japan's Nikkei stock index rose 0.45%.
Oil futures, which have been on a decline since the start of the year, rose in Asia from 13-month lows due to budding optimism that the virus outbreak will be soon contained and hopes that output cuts by major oil producers will support prices.
The yuan held gains in offshore trade and safe-havens such as Treasuries, the yen, and the Swiss franc were marginally weak in a sign of slowly improving investor sentiment.
Globally, mood brightened after China's senior medical adviser on Tuesday said the number of new coronavirus cases was falling in some provinces and forecast the epidemic would peak this month. The number of new cases in Hubei, the province at the epicentre of the outbreak, was 1,068 as of Tuesday, down from a peak of over 3,000 new cases on 4 February, and the lowest number of new infections since 31 January.
Investors will likely need to see more evidence that the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has spread to 24 other countries and territories, is indeed receding before they take on more risk.
Concerns that the virus will slow factory activity and consumer spending in the world's second-largest economy have roiled global stocks and commodities, and many of these markets are still trying to regain their footing.
US stock futures rose 0.12% in Asia on Wednesday. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq had inched to their second consecutive closing high on Tuesday.
Back home, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday claimed that the economy is on the mend, relying on seven indicators to show that green shoots of recovery have started to emerge. India’s economic growth is estimated to hit an 11-year low of 5% in 2019-20, according to by the National Statistical Office. The International Monetary Fund has projected growth to recover to 5.8% in 2020-21.
Canadian alternative asset manager Brookfield Asset Management trumped US private equity firm Blackstone to emerge as the largest private capital investor in India in 2019, boosted by deals with Reliance Industries Ltd. Investments by Brookfield totalled nearly $6.28 billion last year across private equity and real estate, far outpacing the $2.38 billion in investments by Blackstone, according to deals tracker Venture Intelligence.
The government on Tuesday issued a final notification to consider all medical devices as drugs, bringing them under the purview of the drugs regulator and tightening regulations for them to improve safety and quality.
Meanwhile, benchmark 10-year US Treasury notes fell further in Asia, pushing yields up to 1.6057%. Treasury prices declined on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the US economy is resilient.
Powell also said he is closely monitoring the coronavirus in China, because it could lead to disruptions that affect the global economy.
Chinese firms and factories are struggling to get back to work after the extended Lunar New Year holiday. Some companies say they need loans and are laying off workers as supply chains for global firms from car manufacturers to smartphone makers ruptured.
In the commodities market, US crude futures ticked up 0.32% to $50.10 a barrel on hopes that Chinese demand for oil will pick up once the flu-like virus is contained.
In the offshore market, the yuan was little changed at 6.9682 per dollar but close to a two-week high.
The yen traded at 109.82 versus the greenback, on course for its third day of decline, while the Swiss franc held steady at 0.9755 against the dollar.
(Reuters contributed to the story)