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Asian stocks extend gains on big vaccine developments

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine prevented over 90% of symptomatic infections on Monday, although these were early-stage studies.

Asian stocks extend gains on big vaccine developments

Asian stocks mostly extended their gains Tuesday on coronavirus vaccine developments, following a buoyant session on Wall Street.

Regional benchmarks had rallied Monday after Biden was named president-elect. They mostly opened in the green, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 inching 0.3% higher. 

The Kospi in South Korea added 0.2%, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong jumped 0.8%. 

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 climbed 0.7% after hitting an eight-month high on Monday. India’s Nifty 50 rose 0.9%.

But the Shanghai Composite and the Taiwan Capitalization Weighted Stock Index lost 0.4%. 

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine prevented over 90% of symptomatic infections on Monday, although these were early-stage studies. Their shares jumped 7.7% and 13.9% respectively.

‘Investors have been patiently waiting for the news of any vaccine development breakthrough and last night this patience paid off,’ said Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

Over in Southeast Asia, Singapore’s Straits Times Index picked up 3% by mid-day. FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI added 2.1% and the SET Index in Thailand gained 3.2%.

The PSEi Index in the Philippines surged 5.2%, despite worse-than-expected economic data. 

On Wall Street, the Dow surged as much as 1,610 points on Monday before closing 834 points or 3% higher.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2%. But the technology-heavy Nasdaq slumped 1.5% after reaching the record level of 12,108.06. 

The indexes were set to trade sideways at Tuesday’s open. Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 were flat, while that of the Dow rose 0.2%. Nasdaq futures eased 0.2%.  

Crude prices had rallied as much as 11% on Monday. Shell gained 12.8% and BP was up 16.5%. Exxon Mobile rose 12.7% while Chevron traded 11.6% higher.

Travel stocks like American Airlines was up 15.2% and Carnival rallied 39.3%. IAG surged 25.5% and EasyJet gained 35.6%, while Rolls-Royce jumped 43.8% leading the charge.

‘The dichotomy in the market is stark. The biggest gainers in a frantic session are among those stocks worst hit by the pandemic – travel and leisure chiefly, whilst Covid winners are doing poorly,’ said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

Amazon fell 5.1% and Netflix traded 8.6% lower. Peloton lost 20.3% while Slack was down 4.7%.

‘The market reaction overnight reinforces our asset allocation views in the next 6-12 months, as the global economy gradually recovers from the pandemic. A medical solution could potentially accelerate this rebound,’ Hui said.

‘Hence, investors should add equities, corporate credits and Asian fixed income to their portfolio. For equities, US, China and Asia remain the core, but a more globally diversified allocation such as adding Europe, EM ex-Asia and Japan are merited as the recovery takes shape.’

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