Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Coronavirus Vaccine Optimism

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Tuesday amid improved risk appetite after U.S. stocks hit record intraday highs overnight following upbeat results from a late-stage study of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The vaccine news boosted optimism about the economic recovery and lifted airline as well as travel-related stocks, which are among the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian market is extending its winning streak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 97.40 points or 1.55 percent to 6,396.20, after touching a high of 6,438.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 84.10 points or 1.29 percent to 6,599.80. Australian stocks hit an eight-month high on Monday.

Among travel-related stocks, Sydney Airport is climbing more than 10 percent, Flight Centre Travel Group is higher by almost 10 percent and Qantas Airways is gaining almost 9 percent.

Oil stocks are surging after crude oil prices jumped overnight. Oil Search is gaining more than 14 percent, Santos is climbing more than 11 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 7 percent.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac are sharply higher in a range of 6.1 percent to 7.5 percent. Commonwealth Bank is rising more than 3 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is advancing more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are edging down 0.1 percent each.

Meanwhile, gold miners are sharply lower after gold prices recorded the steepest slide in over seven years overnight. Evolution Mining is falling more than 10 percent and Newcrest Mining is tumbling more than 5 percent.

Tech stocks followed their U.S. peers lower. Afterpay is losing 7 percent, Appen is tumbling more than 6 percent and WiseTech Global is declining almost 2 percent.

The Japanese market is rising for a sixth straight day, while the safe-haven yen weakened against the dollar.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 282.03 points or 1.14 percent to 25,121.87, after touching a high of 25,279.94 earlier. Japanese shares hit a 29-year high on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is declining more than 3 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding 0.2 percent.

On Monday, SoftBank Group reported a more than four-fold surge in profit for the first half of the year, reflecting a strong recovery following a massive loss for the previous full year.

The major exporters are mostly higher despite a stronger yen. Canon is climbing more than 7 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 3 percent and Panasonic is advancing more than 2 percent, while Sony is declining more than 1 percent.

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

In the tech space, Advantest is down 0.6 percent, while Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among the other major gainers are travel-related stocks. Yamaha Motor is gaining almost 21 percent, ANA Holdings is climbing almost 17 percent, West Japan Railway is rising almost 14 percent and East Japan Railway is higher by more than 12 percent.

Conversely, Bandai Namco Holdings is tumbling more than 6 percent, Cyberagent is losing almost 6 percent, Nexon Co. is lower by more than 5 percent and Z Holdings is declining more than 4 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a current account surplus of 1,660.2 billion yen in September, up 4.2 percent on year. That missed expectations for a surplus of 1,994.9 billion yen following the surplus of 2,102.8 billion yen in August.

Imports were down 19.2 percent on year to 5,035.7 billion yen, while exports fell an annual 4.2 percent to 5,954.2 billion yen for a trade surplus of 918.4 billion yen.

The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 6.2 percent on year in October, coming in at 573.034 trillion yen. That follows the 6.4 percent gain in September.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore is rising almost 3 percent, Malaysia is advancing almost 2 percent and Indonesia is adding more than 1 percent, while New Zealand and Hong Kong are also higher. Shanghai and Taiwan are lower, while South Korea is little changed.

On Wall Street, stocks pulled back off record highs after skyrocketing early in the session on Monday following upbeat results from a phase 3 study of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Pfizer and BioNTech said an interim analysis of the results found the vaccine candidate to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior infection. The vaccine news added to positive sentiment generated in reaction to the weekend’s news that Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s is projected to win the presidential election.

The Dow soared by more than 1,600 points in early trading to reach a new record intraday high before ending the session up 834.57 points or 3 percent at 29,157.97, its highest closing level in well over eight months. The S&P 500 jumped 41.06 points or 1.2 percent to 3,550.50, while the Nasdaq slumped 41.06 points or 1.2 percent to 3,550.50, as traders moved money out of tech stocks that benefited from the coronavirus pandemic.

The major European markets also skyrocketed on Monday. While the French CAC 40 Index soared by 7.6 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index spiked by 4.9 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Monday as positive news about a potential coronavirus vaccine somewhat outweighed reports showing spikes in new infections. WTI crude for December delivery jumped $3.15 or about 8.5 percent to $40.29 a barrel.

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