Asia report: Markets rise on positive Covid vaccine developments
Markets in Asia were sparkling green across the board as they closed on Tuesday, as investors cheered positive phase one results for a potential Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine from US firm Moderna Therapeutics overnight.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 1.49% at 20,433.45, as the yen weakened 0.19% against the greenback to last trade at JPY 107.54.
Technology giant SoftBank Group was down 2.75%, while among the benchmark’s other main components, automation specialist Fanuc was up 3.99%, and Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing was 0.64% higher.
The broader Topix index managed gains of 1.83% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,486.05.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was ahead 0.81% at 2,898.58, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 1.26% firmer at 1,823.57.
China’s president Xi Jinping also piled on support for the global pandemic that began in the country, pledging $2bn in the next two years to help other nations deal with the impact of the virus.
South Korea’s Kospi leapt 2.25% to 1,980.61, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong added 1.89% to 24,388.13.
Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were positive in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 3.07%, and chipmaker SK Hynix rising 1.97%.
Carmaker Hyundai Motor was also well into the green, rocketing 7.83% by the close of business.
Hong Kong-listed shares in British banking giant HSBC were also well ahead, rising 3.27% by the end of the day.
Sentiment was simmering at a satisfying pace globally during the Asian day, after US firm Moderna reported positive phase one results for its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
The company said that after two doses, all 45 participants in the trial had developed coronavirus antibodies.
“The icing on the cake was when Moderna announced that its potential Covid-19 vaccine showed positive results in phase one of the human trials,” explained CMC Markets analyst David Madden.
“The next phase of trials will be undertaken soon, while the third phase of trials - which will include thousands of patients - might be conducted in July.
“The bullish sentiment in the US spilled over to Asia as hopes for a vaccine lifted stock markets in China and Japan.”
Oil prices were lower at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last down 0.72% at $34.56 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate losing 0.51% to $31.49.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.81% to 5,559,50, as investors in Sydney pored through the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s May meeting.
The central bank said it “would not increase the cash rate target until progress is made towards full employment, and its is confident that inflation will be sustainably within the 2% to 3% target range”.
Australia’s cash rate currently stands at a record low 0.25%, having been slashed in a special announcement on 19 March and reaffirmed twice since then.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.3% higher at 10,790.14, led higher by specialist dairy processor Synlait Milk, which was up 4.9%.
Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.25% at AUD 1.5289, and the Kiwi advancing 0.69% to NZD 1.6441.