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Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Vaccine News, Biden Transition

asiancommentary dec24 23nov20 lt

Asian stock markets, led by Japan, are mostly higher on Tuesday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street after British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said its coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed in collaboration with Oxford University had an average efficacy of 70 percent.

Investor sentiment also received a boost following news that the Trump administration has officially commenced the transition process to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, and Biden has chosen former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury Secretary.

The Australian market is notably higher, extending gains from the previous session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 75.10 points or 1.14 percent to 6,636.70, after touching a high of 6,640.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 77.00 points or 1.14 percent to 6,849.00. Australian stocks rose on Monday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is gaining more than 3 percent, Fortescue Metals is higher by almost 3 percent and Rio Tinto is adding than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are advancing after crude oil prices extended gains overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are climbing almost 3 percent each, while Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 2.2 percent to 2.9 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding more than 1 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are sharply lower after safe-haven gold prices fell overnight. Evolution Mining is sliding more than 7 percent and Newcrest Mining is tumbling more than 4 percent.

The Japanese market, which resumed trading after a long holiday weekend, is surging, while the safe-haven yen weakened against the dollar and boosted exporters' stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 667.44 points or 2.61 percent to 26,194.81, after touching a high of 26,212.67 earlier. The Japanese market was closed on Monday for the Labor Thanksgiving Day.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing are advancing more than 1 percent each. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is gaining more than 5 percent and Advantest is rising more than 3 percent.

The major exporters are notably higher after the safe-haven yen weakened against the U.S. dollar. Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 3 percent, while Sony and Panasonic are advancing more than 2 percent each, and Canon is adding more than 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is higher by more than 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is advancing almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 3 percent and Toyota is higher by more than 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Sumco Corp., Marubeni Corp., GS Yuasa, Seiko Epson and IHI Corp. are all gaining more than 5 percent each, while Nippon Steel is higher by almost 5 percent.

Conversely, ANA Holdings is losing almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 104 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while Shanghai and Malaysia are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Monday as traders reacted positively to additional upbeat news regarding a potential coronavirus vaccine. AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine candidate being developed in collaboration with Oxford University had an average efficacy of 70 percent. Adding to the positive sentiment, the FDA has granted an emergency use authorization for Regeneron's Covid-19 antibody treatment, while purportedly helped President Donald Trump fend off the disease.

The Dow jumped 327.79 points or 1.1 percent to 29,591.27, the Nasdaq edged up 25.66 points or 0.2 percent to 11,880.63 and the S&P 500 climbed 20.05 points or 0.6 percent to 3,577.59.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Monday, extending gains from previous week, as rising optimism about potential Covid-19 vaccine raised hopes that energy demand will pick up soon. WTI crude for January rose $0.64 or about 1.5 percent at $43.06 a barrel.

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