Asian Stocks Up as Possible Brexit Deal Brings Christmas Cheer

This post was originally published on this site – Asia Pacific stocks were mostly up on Thursday morning, with the prospect of a Brexit deal giving markets a pre-Christmas boost.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.53% by 9:52 PM ET (2:52 AM GMT).

South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.86%. The country has signed deals with Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) and Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE:JNJ) Janssen to import COVID-19 vaccines to cover up to 16 million people as it continues to deal with a third wave of COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Chung Sye Kyun said on Thursday.

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 0.43%

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.22%. The new B.1.1.7 strain of the COVID-19 virus could already be in the city, with two students returning from the U.K. suspected to be infected with the strain. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions across England as the B.1.1.7 strain continues to spread across the country.

China’s Shanghai Composite edged down 0.17% while the Shenzhen Component inched up 0.08%. The State Administration for Market Regulation said on Thursday that it will launch an investigation into Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group Holding Ltd (HK:9988) for suspected monopolistic behaviour and will summon the company’s Ant Group to meet in the coming days.

Although a formal announcement of the Brexit deal between the U.K. and the European Union has yet to be released, hopes that an economic rupture on Jan. 1 could be avoided gave shares a boost.

“The framework for a Brexit trade deal gave investors the green light to start buying everything in Europe,” OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya told Reuters.

The news from Europe helped overshadow threats from U.S. President Donald Trump that he would not sign off the COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress earlier in the week. Although House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to echo Trump’s call for larger individual stimulus checks than offered in the bill, whether the House of Representatives would succeed in passing this additional measure during a pro forma session later in the day remains to be seen.

However, Trump’s comments that the bill was “a disgrace” that he might not sign did not seem to have much impact in the market.

On the data front, jobless claims for the past week fell to 803,000 from the previous week’s 892,000 claims and the 885,000 claims in forecasts prepared by However, core durable goods orders grew 0.4% month-on-month in November, down from the 0.5% growth in forecasts and the 1.9% growth seen in October amid ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“Risk-on sentiment is guiding markets so far today and it appears to be weighted more toward possible optimism toward a Brexit deal and the cherry-picked parts of U.S. releases, rather than Trump’s reckless antics over signing the stimulus and funding bill,” Scotiabank head of capital markets economics Derek Holt told Reuters.

Other investors were more cautious, with a little over a week remaining until 2021.

“Right now we have a lot of animal spirits surging into year-end … as constructive as I am on markets in the broader term, I do expect there will be a hangover of sorts to process this over-extension sometime later this winter,” Tallbacken Capital Advisors founder and CEO Michael Purves told Bloomberg.

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