WASHINGTON: Asian stocks made early gains on Wednesday, following a world rally overnight that saw the Dow Jones benchmark crack 30,000 for the first time as investors cheered a dramatically improved global outlook.
The main drivers of that exuberance were increasing confidence a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready soon and the formal start of U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s transition to the White House, which ends weeks of post-election political uncertainty.
As investors look to 2021, analysts say they are betting the economic recovery will gain steam and that forthcoming virus vaccine shots will ease uncertainty and enable people to pack airplanes and fill stadiums, restaurants and other places hardest hit by crisis.
President Donald Trump’s apparent willingness to comply with the formal transfer of power also boosted investor sentiment, following weeks of legal challenges to the election results. The General Services Administration told Biden this week that he could formally begin the handover process.
Reports that Biden planned to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary — a move that could shift the focus heavily toward efforts to tackle growing economic inequality — also cheered markets.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.77% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.16% in early trading. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures rose 0.24%.
E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.17% and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.36%.
“Sentiment is running very hot as we come to the end of a cracker month for risk assets, so it does make you wonder whether the market is starting to exhibit signs of euphoria, and is due for a bit of a retracement in the short-term,” said IG Australia markets analyst Kyle Rodda.
“But for all the risks the pandemic poses over the next few months…market participants appear happy to look through it all, and position for a post-pandemic world.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.54%, the S&P 500 gained 1.62% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.31%.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.91% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.08%. Emerging market stocks rose 0.45%.
Bitcoin rose over 5% and has $20,000 in sight, with traders expecting volatility ahead due partly to Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in U.S. markets. Gold fell for the fifth session in six.
“Trading conditions are likely to be volatile for the remainder of the week and crypto traders should expect $1,000 swings in the matter of minutes,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.
U.S. crude fell 0.18% to $44.83 per barrel and Brent was at $47.91, up 4.02% on the day while the dollar index fell 0.395%, under pressure from Yellen’s expected push for fiscal stimulus, analysts say.
The yield on benchmark 10-year notes rose to 0.8848%, from 0.882% late on Tuesday.
Spot gold dropped 0.1% to $1,806.36 an ounce.
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