Asia markets extend global rally on vaccine hope

A pedestrian walks past an electronic board displaying the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo on November 4, 2020, as Asian markets react to early predictions following the US presidential election. (Photo: AFP)
  • Agence France-Presse
  • November 10, 2020 9:33 AM

Hong Kong, China |Asian markets rallied Tuesday on news that a vaccine candidate had been 90 percent effective in treating patients, fuelling hopes it could begin to be rolled out this year and bring an end to a pandemic that has battered the world economy.

Wall Street and European shares soared with oil prices, while safe-haven assets tumbled Monday when US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced results of their Phase 3 trial.

The news provided a massive boost to investors who were already in a strong buying mood after Joe Biden's US election win at the weekend removed a large amount of uncertainty from trading floors.

"The clearing of the election fog has permitted underlying market fundamentals to come back into focus and the most recent vaccine news suggests a 'return to normality' should be coming sooner rather than later," said Seema Shah of Principal Global Investors.

"All the chips are starting to line up, and market sentiment may be in the early stages of a burst of positive energy."

Hong Kong and Mumbai put on more than one percent, Singapore and Bangkok each soared more than three percent and Jakarta gained two percent. Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul and Wellington also posted gains.

Manila rocketed more than five percent, with traders also welcoming signs the Philippine economy is improving despite a third straight quarter of contraction.

Shanghai and Taipei fell.

In early European trade Tuesday, London, Paris and Frankfurt each built on their Monday surge.

Gains were led by companies that have been hammered for most of the year by lockdowns, particularly airlines. Japan Airlines cruised more than 20 percent higher, Qantas jumped more than eight percent and Cathay Pacific piled on 13 percent, as did Singapore Airlines.

But tech firms which have benefitted from people being kept at home retreated, as did medical equipment makers. Gaming giants Sony and Nintendo also tanked, just as the sector prepares for the holiday season and the next era of computer consoles, with Microsoft putting its new Xbox on sale.

Oil prices edged up after Monday's surge, while the safe-haven yen edged back slightly -- although it was still well off its levels just above 103 to the dollar earlier Monday. Gold struggled to battle back after losing five percent.

- 'Ray of hope' -

Tai Hui, at JP Morgan Asset Management, said in a note: "This offers a ray of hope that the market did not hesitate to take advantage of. Investors' reaction... is in line with our expectations of what would happen if there are signals that some normality can return to our lives."

The breakthrough on a vaccine comes as several European nations endure fresh lockdowns to contain a second wave of the virus, which has infected more than 50 million people globally and killed more than a million.

It has fanned hopes that the world economy can begin to get back on track after a year in which it has been shattered with tens of million left jobless, companies going under and nations plunging into recession.

"The bull market just received 'a by George, we've done it' shot in the arm as the vaccine will genuinely be a game-changing panacea for global healthcare concerns," said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

However, he warned that while there was much euphoria, there were fears US lawmakers would now pass a more modest stimulus.

Biden's win provided a boost to investors looking for less chaos after four years of Donald Trump, and Republican success in holding on to the Senate will limit attempts by Democrats to push through big tax and regulatory changes.

However, they have always been against a new big-spending package and are unlikely to budge. Analysts pointed out that forecast-beating US jobs data from last month provided them a reason to be reticent while the vaccine new could add to that.

"Those heartening developments on the vaccine front are giving way to worries that lawmakers will pass a smaller stimulus package, and the next move for central bankers will not be lower," Innes added.

"It is just not the vaccine that will hold back US infrastructure spending. There is also some cynical objection from bipartisan politicians who are not keen to do anything to boost a political rival."

And CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson offered a note of caution. "One swallow does not make a summer, and there still remains a some way to go before life as we knew it a year ago, can return to any semblance of normal, in the short or medium term," he said in a note.

- Key figures around 0820 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 24.905.59 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 26,301.48 (close

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,360.15 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,198.29

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1825 from $1.1814 at 2230 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.05 yen from 105.31 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3170 from $1.3160

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $40.38 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.5 percent at $42.62 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 2.95 percent at 29,157.97 (close)

-- Bloomberg News contributed to this story --

© Agence France-Presse

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