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Asian markets were largely up again on Monday, but investor sentiment remains split between optimism about vaccine developments and concerns about rising virus cases around the world.
A lack of movement in the stimulus talks on Capitol Hill and a spit between the White House and the Federal Reserve over cash for emergency loans also dampened sentiment.
Hopes that the world can return to normal in the New Year rose this month after top pharmaceutical giants announced better-than-expected results from trials of their vaccines.
On Friday, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that they had applied for emergency approval for their drug, which could be launched next month.
And on Sunday, a senior government health official said he was confident that shocks could be given within weeks.
« Our plan is to have vaccines delivered to vaccination sites within 24 hours of approval, » Moncef Slaoui, director of the US government agency for viral vaccines, told CNN, pointing to possible dates as of Nov.. until 12. December.
Slaoui estimated that 20 million people in the US could be vaccinated by December, and 30 million a month after that. The UK and Germany are also hoping to offer jabs next month.
The need for vaccination has been highlighted by rising infection and death rates in the US and elsewhere as the northern hemisphere forges into winter, when viruses are typically more prolific.
Some US states have started to impose new restrictions, while several European countries, including England and France, have returned to lockdowns.
« There’s a lot of buzz about the vaccine news, and rightly so – once we can get something that is very effectively widely distributed, we’re more likely to get back to normal life, » said Brian Jacobsen of Wells Fargo Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.
« The problem from our point of view is that we have to get through winter first, and this prepares us for some economic surprises. «
Seoul recorded gains, gaining more than one percent, while Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta also recorded strong gains.
Hong Kong slipped, however, as investors resented a resurgence of the virus in the city, which many feared reintroducing economically painful containment measures. Cathay Pacific fell more than four percent when a proposed Hong Kong to Singapore travel bubble was canceled. Singapore Airlines fell one percent in Singapore.
« In the short term, the market sentiment should lie between negative news about Covid infections. . . and positive vaccine news, « said Patrik Schowitz, strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.
« In the short term, the negative news could take hold, especially given the extent to which markets have already recovered and economic data in the US is starting to shake a little. However, if the market pulls back, this is likely a buying opportunity as infection growth rates should peak in the medium term. . . and the introduction of the vaccine should begin. «
With vaccines on the way, investors watch Washington where lawmakers stay abreast of a new, much-needed incentive. Analysts say nothing likely to be agreed before Christmas.
Add to this concerns over a spat between the White House and the Fed after Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin on Thursday refused to extend a number of programs to support corporate credit, municipal lending, and small and medium-sized businesses.
He said the cash that had not been used by the central bank should be used for other pandemic relief efforts.
« An emerging risk for investors is an early withdrawal of support for the US real economy, as restrictions on social mobility are undermining activity for the second time this year, » said Stephen Innes of Axi.
« Economic data is likely to get worse before it gets better (and) the effects of continued lockdowns will be felt some time before vaccines become widely available. «
In forex trading, the pound lengthened hopes that the UK and the European Union could soon announce a post-Brexit trade deal.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Friday that better progress had been made in recent talks. The two sides had on Jan.. December had eleven months to reach an agreement.
« After a difficult week – with very, very slow progress – we’ve seen better progress and movement on important files in the past few days. That’s good, « said Von der Leyen.
World News – UK – Asian markets are largely on the upswing, but growing infections are fueling fear
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– Stock markets rise due to vaccine hope, Fear of Rising Infections
– >> Asian markets are mostly rising, but growing infections are fueling fear
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