Global shares mostly rise on virus vaccines, Yellen hopes

TOKYO (AP) – Global shares were mostly higher yesterday, encouraged by news on the development of coronavirus vaccines and more assurance of a transition of power in the United States (US) to President-elect Joe Biden.

The US federal government recognised Biden as the “apparent winner” of the November 3 election, giving the green light for cooperation on a transition of power despite efforts by US President Donald Trump to overturn the election.

France’s CAC 40 added 1.0 per cent in early trading to 5,547.48, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.6 per cent to 13,209.59. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.6 per cent at 6,373.42. US shares were also set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.8 per cent at 29,796. S&P 500 futures were also up, gaining 0.7 per cent to 3,600.62.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 2.5 per cent to finish at 26,165.59. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.3 per cent to 6,644.10.

South Korea’s Kospi added 0.6 per cent to 2,617.76. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.4 per cent to 26,588.20, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.3 per cent to 3,402.82.

Reports, including by The Associated Press, that Biden has chosen former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary added to investors’ confidence. Widely admired in the financial world, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the department in a line stretching back to Alexander Hamilton in 1789, taking on a pivotal role to help shape policies at a perilous time.

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

The latest vaccine developments are also helping to raise hopes that some normalcy will eventually be restored to everyday life and the economy. They’re also tempering lingering concerns over rising virus cases in the US, as well as in Asia and other parts of the world, and new government restrictions on businesses aimed at limiting the spread.

“Investors continue to embrace and see the optimism in the development of vaccines, providing light at the end of the tunnel and multiple choices on how to get there,” said Chief Envestment Officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank Adam Taback.

Trading is expected to be light on Wall Street this week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, when US stock markets will be closed. They will re-open on Friday for a half-day session.

AstraZeneca is the latest drug developer to report surprisingly good results from ongoing vaccine studies. It said its potential vaccine, which is being developed with partner Oxford University, was up to 90 per cent effective. Unlike rival candidates, however, AstraZeneca’s doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute.

Last week, Pfizer and Moderna both reported study results showing their vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective. And, over the weekend, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received US government approval for emergency use of its COVID-19 treatment. The drug, which 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.

The string of upbeat news about vaccine development has been butting up against increased caution as the virus continues to threaten the economy. Energy companies notched among the biggest gains in the S&P 500 as the positive vaccine news stoked optimism about more demand for oil, sending the price of US crude 2.2 per cent higher on Monday.

Benchmark US crude rose 44 cents to USD43.50 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 39 cents to USD46.45 a barrel.