Asia Markets

Asia trades higher with investor sentiment supported by positive vaccine news

Key Points
  • Asia Pacific markets rose Tuesday after investor sentiment was supported by a slew of positive news on the coronavirus vaccine front and likely also from a pivotal European deal on a pandemic recovery fund. 
  • The European Union's executive arm, the European Commission, will tap into financial markets to raise 750 billion euros ($857 billion), which would be distributed among countries and sectors most affected by the pandemic.
  • The session in Asia followed overnight gains on Wall Street due to a strong performance in technology shares.

Asia Pacific markets rose Tuesday after investor sentiment was supported by a slew of positive news on the coronavirus vaccine front and likely also from a pivotal European deal on a pandemic recovery fund

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.73% to 22,884.22 and the Topix index added 0.36% to 1,582.74. 

South Korea's Kospi index rose 1.39% to 2,228.83, while in Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 added 2.58% to close at 6,156.30, with the heavily weighted financials subindex up 2.9%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 1.83% in afternoon trade while the Straits Times index in Singapore gained 0.53% and the Jakarta Composite rose 1.41%. India's Nifty 50 and the Sensex also gained more than 1% each. 

Chinese mainland shares also rose: The Shanghai composite recovered from earlier losses to gain 0.2% to 3,320.89 while the Shenzhen component index added 0.65% to 13,536.17 and the Shenzhen composite was up 0.72% at 2,232.69. 

The session in Asia followed overnight gains on Wall Street due to a strong performance in technology shares. U.S. futures pointed to opening gains on Tuesday. 

"Global equities kicked off the trading week on a positive note as vaccine hopes supported optimism," Felicity Emmett, a senior economist at ANZ, wrote in a morning note. 

Pfizer and BioNTech reported early positive data on a joint coronavirus vaccine candidate. Another candidate from Oxford University and AstraZeneca also showed a positive immune response in an early trial

The coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in China late last year, has infected more than 14.6 million people and killed over 608,000. 

European leaders reached a breakthrough agreement over new fiscal stimulus, following marathon talks in Brussels over four days. The European Union's executive arm, the European Commission, will tap into financial markets to raise 750 billion euros ($857 billion), which would be distributed among countries and sectors most affected by the pandemic. The funds would be disbursed in the form of grants and loans. 

Elsewhere, Moody's Investors Service said in a report that Chinese companies' earnings were set to grow slower or even decline this year due to the pandemic's impact on economic growth before recovering in 2021. The largest downward revision was for companies in the auto and auto-related, oil and gas, and oilfield sectors. 

"We expect credit quality will weaken, especially for companies in vulnerable sectors that are most affected by reduced revenues, margins and disrupted supply chains," said Lina Choi, a senior vice president at Moody's, in a statement.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, last traded at 95.741 as of 3:04 p.m. HK/SIN, declining slightly from its previous close of 95.832. 

The dollar "remains heavy near the weakest levels since March," analysts at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia wrote in a morning note. 

"In the absence of market‑moving economic data this week, negotiations about the next round of economic stimulus will be in focus," they said. 

Elsewhere, the Japanese yen changed hands at 107.31, weakening from levels near 106.8 seen last week. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7042, climbing from levels near $0.6960 in the previous week. 

The euro traded fractionally higher at $1.1450 after the common currency earlier rose to a high of $1.1469. 

Oil prices traded higher Tuesday during Asian hours. U.S. crude traded up 0.47% at $41 a barrel while global benchmark Brent added 0.72% to $43.59.