Vaccine bets push Asian shares higher, but risks remain

Questions about effectiveness of possible vaccines could keep a lid on any economic and market recovery, analysts say.

Asian shares rose towards a more than two-year high on Thursday, buoyed by sustained global stimulus efforts and hopes of a coronavirus vaccine, but some analysts warned of the risk of a lower correction.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.44 percent, approaching the highest since January 2018. Chinese shares rose 0.37 percent. Stocks in Japan rose 0.62 percent to a 29-year high.

Australian stocks bucked the regional trend and fell 0.31 percent as a decline in copper prices hurt shares in mining firms. US S&P 500 stock futures fell 0.15 percent.

Oil futures rose towards two-month highs due to optimism about a vaccine and a larger-than-expected drawdown in US crude inventories.

The gains in Asia came after a mixed performance for US stocks as investors switched back to technology firms and away from economically sensitive sectors as they weighed COVID-19 vaccine progress and the likely timing of an economic rebound.

“The markets are waiting for more news about the virus, so it is difficult for investors to short equities,” said Daiju Aoki, regional chief investment officer for Japan at UBS Securities.

“These expectations can keep equities going for another few weeks, but there are still questions about the effectiveness of a vaccine and about US fiscal policy. We could see a correction early next year.”


The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.08 percent on Wednesday, but the Nasdaq closed up 2 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.77 percent.

Encouraging comments from European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde on continued economic support boosted European shares for the third straight session.

Vaccine hopes

Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it is preparing to submit data on its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to an independent safety board, which should help determine the vaccine’s efficacy.

Pfizer also said on Monday that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective and it may release safety data later this month.

Investors the world over are keenly awaiting details on both drugs, but some analysts warn it will still take a long time to distribute an effective vaccine.

In the currency market, the US dollar edged lower against the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan as traders adjusted positions before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office next year.

Global oil benchmark Brent rose 0.48 percent to $44.01 a barrel, approaching a two-month high. US crude futures also gained 0.55 percent to $41.62 a barrel.

“Crude markets remain torn by the bleak near-term picture with curfews, closures and shutdowns becoming more widespread across the U.S. and Europe; and the medium-term picture where vaccines may bring a return to more normal conditions,” Westpac analysts for Australia and New Zealand wrote in a note on Thursday.

The spot gold price edged up 0.22 percent to $1,868.76 an ounce.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury bond yields fell slightly to 0.9406 percent. The US bond market was closed on Wednesday in observance of Veterans Day after the 10-year yield reached the highest level since March, pointing to investor confidence in a near-term economic recovery.

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