Global shares up after vaccine maker boosts Europe supplies

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets rose yesterday after coronavirus vaccine maker AstraZeneca agreed to increase supplies to Europe amid rising worries about the disease.

London and Frankfurt opened higher while Shanghai and Tokyo also advanced.

United States (US) futures were higher following Friday’s decline after GameStop, a video game vendor, and other shares were sent soaring by day traders. Investors said hedge funds that bet against those stocks were losing money and selling other shares, depressing the overall market.

Silver rose almost 12 per cent to USD30.07 in London after novice traders who drove up GameStop turned their attention to metals. The price is silver’s highest since December 2012.

Markets were rattled by AstraZeneca’s announcement it would supply the European Union (EU) with fewer than half the promised doses, which prompted the EU to impose export controls. On Sunday, AstraZeneca promised to increase European supplies and start delivery earlier.

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP

“Concerns around the pandemic seemed to return in full force as vaccine distribution and efficacy issues re-emerged even with the virus spread gaining momentum,” said Mizuho Bank in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.6 per cent to 6,443.57 and Frankfurt’s DAX opened 0.9 per cent higher at 13,551.68. The CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.8 per cent to 5,441.28.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index was up 0.6 per cent. That for the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.7 per cent.

On Friday, the S&P 500 dropped 1.9 per cent for its biggest weekly loss since October. The S&P 500 is still up 13.6 per cent since the end of October. The Dow fell two per cent and the Nasdaq composite lost two per cent.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 per cent to 3,505.28 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.6 per cent to 28,091.05. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 2.1 per cent to 28,892.86.

The Kospi in Seoul surged 2.7 per cent to 3,056.53 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.8 per cent to 6,663.00.

India’s Sensex opened down 0.2 per cent at 46,759.42. New Zealand and Singapore declined while Bangkok and Jakarta advanced.

A purchasing managers’ index issued by business magazine Caixin declined to 51.5 from December’s 53 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 reflect activity expanding. A separate PMI by the official statistics agency showed similar weakening.

The data suggest China’s rebound “is levelling off”, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

Investors bid up stocks in expectation the rollout of coronavirus vaccines would allow global business and travel to return to normal. That optimism has been dented by new infection spikes and disruptions in vaccine deliveries.

On Wall Street, anxiety mounted over the struggle between hedge funds and day traders over GameStop, AMC Entertainment and a handful of other stocks.

Investors are watching negotiations in Washington over US President Joe Biden’s proposed USD1.9 trillion economic aid package. Hopes for aid, along with the Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep low-cost credit plentiful, have carried the S&P 500 and other major indexes to record highs.

“Most market forecasts anticipate a smaller package that happens sooner,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude rose 44 cents to USD52.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 14 cents on Friday to USD52.20. Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oils, gained 57 cents to USD55.61 per barrel in London.

The dollar gained to JPY104.88 from JPY104.75. The euro edged lower to USD1.2130 from USD1.2132.