Asian Stocks Up Alongside Vaccine Hopes, But Clouded By COVID-19 Worries

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Investing.com – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Monday morning, with investors starting the week by monitoring the continuous progress towards a COVID-19 vaccine.

South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 1.97% by 11:06 PM ET (3:06 AM GMT) and in Australia, the ASX 200 gained 0.53%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged down 0.14%. The city is currently fighting a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, reporting 68 cases on Sunday. On Friday, the rising number of cases halted the prospective travel bubble with Singapore. Authorities on both sides continue to review a new launch date for the alliance, the world’s first and originally slated to have commenced on Sunday.

China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.56% while the Shenzhen Component was up 0.23%.

Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Global shares remained ever so slightly below a record high seen earlier in November. “The FDA may potentially grant approval in mid-December for Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) and German partner BioNTech’s (F:22UAy) vaccine candidate BNT162b2, chief scientific adviser for “Operation Warp Speed” Moncef Slaoui said. The first people in the U.S. could be inoculated the day after the approval. The U.K. is also looking to grant regulatory approval to BNT162b2 this week.

The number of global COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise incessantly, surpassing 58.5 million and 1.38 million respectively as of Nov. 23, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The numbers saw investors focus on the data coming from vaccine trials.

Rising numbers of cases continue to be of concern, as millions of Americans are expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday despite warnings to stay at home. Germany could see its current lockdown extended until mid-December.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm over the vaccine news and rightly so — as soon as we can get something that is very effective distributed widely, the sooner we can get back to ordinary life,” Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) Asset Management multi-asset strategist Brian Jacobsen told Bloomberg.

“The problem, from our perspective, is we first have to get through winter, and this is setting us up for some downside economic surprises,” he added.

Investors are still digesting the previous week’s dispute between the Fed and the Treasury Department over the termination of some emergency lending programs. Key pandemic lending programs at the Federal Reserve are now set to expire on Dec. 31.

“Discussion is only beginning and may take some time, if the recent partisan disagreements over the composition and magnitude of fiscal spending are any indication,” ANZ analysts warned in a note.

With the U.S. Congress also still deadlocked over the latest stimulus measures, investors will now look to the minutes of the Fed’s last policy meeting, to be released on Wednesday, for confirmation that Fed policymakers discussed adding to the central bank’s asset-buying plans at the meeting.

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