Asian Stocks Up Over U.S. Vaccine Approval, Fed Policy Meeting Expectations

Asian Stocks Up Over U.S. Vaccine Approval, Fed Policy Meeting Expectations

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Monday morning, gaining back some earlier losses even as the U.S. approved its first COVID-19 vaccine and there were small signs of progress in the negotiations for the latest U.S. stimulus measures.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.59% by 10:47 PM ET (2:47 AM GMT) and South Korea’s KOSPI inched up 0.08%

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 0.51%. The Reserve Bank of Australia will release the minutes from its latest policy meeting on Tuesday, with investors widely expected to scale back bets for additional monetary policies afterwards.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched down 0.04%

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.26% and the Shenzhen Component edged up 0.16%. Investors await Chinese industrial production and retail sales data for November, due on Tuesday.

Investors were cheered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s emergency use authorization of BNT162b2, the COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech SE (F:22UAy). The authorization, given on Dec. 11, will see the first U.S. deliveries of BNT162b2 later in the day.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other top U.S. officials will reportedly be offered the vaccine beginning on Monday.

The vaccine “is giving markets the ability to look past the valley … stocks pose a reasonable value proposition” relative to bonds, Regentatlantic Capital LLC partner and director of research Andy Kapyrin told Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan bill for a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package is set to be introduced in Congress later in the day. It could possibly be split into two separate packages as the lawmakers who prepared the bill seek to win approval from both Republicans and Democrats. However, a key negotiator warned that there is “no guarantee” the bill will be passed.

Across the Atlantic, the U.K. and the European Union will continue their post-Brexit trade deal talks as the initially set deadline of Sunday came and went.

Some investors were cautious in their expectations on whether a deal could be reached before the end of the year.

“Our base case remains that a ‘thin’ free trade agreement will be reached before the end of the year … that said, there is plenty of uncertainty and our economists, given the lack of progress in recent weeks, now see rising risks of a no-deal outcome,” Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) analysts said in a note.

On the COVID-19 front, the number of global COVID-19 cases topped 72.81 million as of Dec 14, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Germany will enter a lockdown from Wednesday that will see the closure of non-essential stores, employers urged to close workplaces and school children encouraged to stay home.

However, in the U.S., a vaccination drive spurred by the FDA approval could see as much as 80% of the population inoculated against COVID-19 by next summer, putting herd immunity within reach.

Central banks globally are prepping for a busy week ahead as they convene for their last policy meetings of 2020. The U.S. Federal Reserve will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and is widely expected to provide fresh guidance on its continued asset purchases program.

The Bank of England, alongside central banks in Mexico, Switzerland and Indonesia will hand down their respective policy decisions on Thursday. The Japanese and Russian central banks will follow suit on Friday.

Original Article

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