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Asian Stocks Up, Following U.S. Lead After Volatile Day

Stocks in Asia rose on Friday morning, following U.S. markets that reversed some heavy losses on Thursday. That came from Wednesday with online trading platforms trying to limit unprecedented and risky volatility in many stocks.

All U.S. benchmarks ended the Thursday trading session in positive territory. Asia followed suit on the last day of a volatile week.

By 9:00 PM ET (2:00 AM GMT) Japan’s Nikkei 225 was flat. South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.59%. Australia’s ASX 200 climbed 0.49%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HK:2833) gained 0.33% while north in mainland China the Shanghai Composite added 0.16%. The Southern Shenzhen Stock Exchange Component Etf Feeder A edged up 1.02%.

U.S. markets closed the day with gains on Thursday, reversing sharp losses a day earlier. Robinhood and Interactive Brokers (NASDAQ:IBKR), online trading platforms, put caps on share trading. 

Those were shares that have seen unprecedented volatility levels in recent days after being named in some Reddit discussion forums. Therefore, they were attracting huge numbers of retail investors.

Platforms Restrict Shares in Several Stocks

The platforms restricted GameStop shares (NYSE: NYSE:GME) and BlackBerry (NYSE: NYSE:BB). These stocks have risen by hundreds of percentage points in recent days. 

In both companies, share prices fell more than 40% by the close Thursday. At one point, GameStop went through a wild ride that saw it more than triple in value.

However, for most investors, a more significant concern going forward continues to be the impact of COVID-19. New variants are spreading globally, and countries are extending lockdowns. 

Two of the countries most affected by the pandemic are the U.S. and India. Both have seen a slowdown in new cases this week.

The pandemic caused the worst economic performance in the U.S. since World War Two. 

From the U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday, a preliminary estimate suggested that U.S. GDP grew at an annualized 4%. That was in Q4 of 2020, roughly in line with forecasts. For all of 2020, U.S. GDP fell 3.5%.

With that, investors are now looking at the progress in a $1.9 trillion aid plan proposed by President Biden. It is unclear though as to when or if the package will move forward.

Moreover, Thailand’s stock market has never been busier. A growing number of people join a global surge of individual traders chasing returns.

Furthermore. this month, the average daily trading turnover jumped to 99 billion baht ($3.3 billion) through Wednesday, set for a monthly record. Transactions by individuals this month made up about 46% of total trading. Stock exchange data showed that it was an increase from 43% in 2020.

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