Global shares mostly higher after Dow crests 30,000

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares mostly rose yesterday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 30,000 points for the first time despite an ongoing pandemic, as progress in development of coronavirus vaccines kept investors in a buying mood.

France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 per cent in early trading to 5,572.01, while Germany’s DAX added nearly 0.2 per cent to 13,313.36. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.5 per cent to 6,462.84. United States (US) shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up nearly 0.2 per cent at 30,050. S&P 500 futures were gaining nearly 0.2 per cent to 3,639.62.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.5 per cent to finish at 26,296.86. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 per cent to 6,683.30. South Korea’s Kospi lost early gains to decline 0.6 per cent to 2,601.54.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.3 per cent to 26,669.75, while the Shanghai Composite dipped 1.2 per cent to 3,362.33.

Senior Market Strategist Jingyi Pan at IG in Singapore noted news that the transition of power in the US to President-elect Joe Biden will finally begin, as well as his selection of former Fed chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, were encouraging traders.

“While the vaccine optimism had changed the outlook for Asia markets hoping for a quicker recovery, the formal transition for the Biden administration alongside former Fed chair Janet Yellen’s expected lead of the US Treasury had only served as embellishments contributing to expectations for a more conducive environment for the recovery,” Pan said.

People stand by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

News about coronavirus vaccines and treatments are setting off hopes that the pandemic’s stranglehold on the economy might get gradually loosened.

“We are one step closer to moving past the election uncertainty,” said Ally Invest Chief Investment Strategist Lindsey Bell. “People are still optimistic about what 2021 has to bring, from an economic perspective and an earnings perspective.”

Traders continue to favour stocks that stand to gain the most from a gradual re-opening of the economy, such as banks and industrial companies. Technology and communication stocks, which have been investor favourites through the pandemic, also helped lift the market.

“There’s some relief that Biden is choosing moderates to fill out the Cabinet,” said Head of Institutional Equity Strategy Barry Bannister at Stifel. He also said the encouraging vaccine news continues to give hope there is an end in sight to the pandemic.

Several candidates are in development for a vaccine. Drugmaker AstraZeneca has said its potential vaccine, being developed with Oxford University, was up to 90 per cent effective.

Unlike rival candidates, AstraZeneca’s doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute. Pfizer and Moderna have also reported study results showing their vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received US government approval for emergency use of its COVID-19 treatment over the weekend.

The drug, which President Donald Trump received when he was sickened last month, is meant to try to prevent hospitalisation and worsening disease from developing in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

US markets will be closed today for the holiday.

In energy trading, benchmark US crude gained USD0.45 to USD45.36 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose USD0.56 to USD48.42 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar inched up to JPY104.42 from JPY104.30. The euro was at USD1.1918, up from USD1.1878.