Asian Stocks Mixed As Virus Cases Cloud Vaccine Optimism

Tokyo Stock Exchange
  • Although the consensus is that the world can begin to return to normal—and the economy can recover—as people are inoculated by next year, analysts warn of lockdowns, and other containment efforts that are already in effect are crippling industries and employment.
  • According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States confirmed more than 210,000 new cases in 24 hours through Thursday evening, and more than 2,900 deaths.
  • Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, and Bangkok all closed in the green.  Tokyo, Manila, Jakarta, and Wellington ended slightly lower.
  • Visit The Financial Today’s homepage for more stories.

HONG KONG — On Friday, investors propelled Asian stocks higher on sustained hope over vaccines and indicators of progress on a potential US stimulus, while the painful, urgent reality of the coronavirus outbreak was illustrated by surging infections and deaths.

Although the consensus is that the world can begin to return to normal—and the economy can recover—as people are inoculated by next year, analysts warn of lockdowns, and other containment efforts that are already in effect are crippling industries and employment.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States confirmed more than 210,000 new cases in 24 hours through Thursday evening, and more than 2,900 deaths.

And Italy has reported 993 deaths, an all-time peak.

The data highlight governments’ need to enforce controls, with stringent containment measures being enforced by Britain, France, and Germany among the major economies.

The wealthiest state in the US, California, is on the verge of implementing a limited lockdown.

Focus is now shifting to Washington as policymakers seem to be finally leaning for an agreement on a new stimulus for the world’s largest economy before the Christmas break.

As a starting point for talks, Democratic lawmakers have endorsed a $908 billion bipartisan plan, and some top Republicans are already turning to the notion. Originally, they had asked for around $2 trillion.

“We’re getting more and more support from Republicans and Democrats,” Republican Mitt Romney, who helped draw up the current initiative, said.

It was also said that Donald Trump’s ally, Lindsey Graham, welcomed the bid, and while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—who has mostly kicked back against larger budget proposals—has yet to accept it, there are expectations that the measure would be supported.

“I believe we are getting very close to a deal,” Trump said Thursday.

Analysts said the trends suggest that within weeks, a deal might be reached.

Although the Nasdaq notched up another high, after mixed US economic data showed sluggish development in the key services sector but lower-than-expected new unemployment claims, Wall Street’s three major indexes drifted. Data on November jobs will be issued later on Friday.

Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, and Bangkok all closed in the green. 

Tokyo, Manila, Jakarta, and Wellington ended slightly lower.

Source: AFP | Image: Dick Thomas Johnson

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