Asia stocks edge higher after vaccine hopes push Wall Street to record highs

HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks cautiously pushed further into record territory on Tuesday, and oil edged higher after U.S. benchmarks were pepped up by news of another promising coronavirus vaccine.

FILE PHOTO: TV crews talk in front of a large screen showing stock prices at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Investor sentiment was given a boost when Moderna Inc MRNA.O said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing infection based on interim late-state data.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm became the second drugmaker, after Pfizer Inc PFE.N, to announce promising trial data in the development of a vaccine to defeat the pandemic. Its shares gained 9.6% on the day.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.11% on Tuesday morning, a day after hitting its highest level since launching in 1987.

The MSCI World Index of global shares .MIWD00000PUS which also hit a record high on Monday, ticked higher still in Asia’s morning trading.

“Investors are looking further ahead in the pandemic development into 2021, instead of focusing on the very challenging outbreak that’s taking place in the U.S. and Europe now,” said Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, in emailed comments.

Hong Kong benchmark .HSI rose 0.1% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 .AXJO rose 0.23%, after Monday’s trading had been severely curtailed by a software glitch

Japan’s Nikkei 225 .N225 fell 0.2% after hitting a 29 year high the day before.

All three main Wall Street indexes advanced on Monday, led by cyclical and small cap names, with the Dow Jones Industrials Average setting a record as it neared the 30,000 mark for the first time in nine months.

“This is a continuation of what we saw last week as the vaccine being a catalyst for a rotation into cyclical sectors such as energy, financials, and defense with expectations for renewed demand and travel,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital in New York.

The same sentiment helped oil prices hold onto Monday’s gains.

U.S. crude CLc1 on Tuesday morning was at $41.36 per barrel little changed after rising 3.02% on Monday and Brent LCOc1 rose 0.3% after an earlier rise of 2.43%.

In currency markets, China’s central bank on Tuesday lifted its official yuan midpoint to the highest in nearly 29 months, underpinned by solid gains in spot prices a day earlier on the back of strong economic data.

The positive news helped the risk friendly Australian dollar AUD=D4, which rose to a one week high against the dollar, but rising case numbers in the United States meant the dollar was broadly flat against the safe haven yen JPY=D3.

U.S. Treasury yields rose on Monday and the yield curve steepened in the wake of the vaccine developments. The yield on Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR was last at 0.9012%, from 0.893% late on Friday.

Graphic: Global assets – here

Graphic: Global currencies vs. dollar – here

Graphic: Emerging markets – here

Graphic: MSCI All Country Wolrd Index Market Cap – here

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