Most Asian markets track another Wall St record on recovery hope

by AFP

Asian equities mostly rose Wednesday, building on strong gains in Europe and Wall Street as investors were buoyed by optimism over a strong economic recovery despite fears over rising virus cases around the world.

Vaccine optimism was also given an extra boost after Moderna said its drug protected against the Delta strain that has spread rapidly around the world and accounts for an increasing number of new infections.

Traders were given a healthy lead from their US counterparts after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq again finished at records in New York as data showed US consumer confidence surged in June to its highest pandemic-era level.

The Conference Board’s monthly report showed Americans increasingly upbeat about the economy and their job prospects, putting aside worries over rising prices.

“Low virus transmission, vaccinations, and expanded reopenings made consumers much more confident,” Oren Klachkin of Oxford Economics said. “Consumers are coming out of their shell.”

The positive mood bodes well for other key data this week including on factory and services activity, with the crucial June jobs report — which will give an up-to-date snapshot of the world’s biggest economy — due on Friday.

The advance in New York, which was mirrored in Europe, flowed through to most of Asia. Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei, Mumbai, Bangkok and Jakarta were all up, though Hong Kong, Tokyo and Manila were down.

London, Paris and Frankfurt edged down in the morning session.

There was little movement in response to data out of China showing growth in the country’s manufacturing sector inched down marginally but officials warned over supply shortages of chips and commodities.

Still, while the broad outlook is upbeat, traders are keeping an eye on the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, which began in India and is sending infection rates soaring, forcing some governments — from Australia and Asia to Europe and South America — to impose new lockdowns.

Nevertheless, analysts said a resurgent virus is unlikely to temper the global rally, given the broad success of vaccine rollouts in much of the world.

“The fight against Covid-19 is far from over, but optimism abounds so much that the global economy is temporarily overheating as a consequence,” Sebastien Galy, at Nordea Investment Funds SA, said.

“The environment in the third quarter should still be supportive for risky assets, though fear of bouts of persistent inflation could alter this scenario. We expect to see bouts of volatility from this.”

Oil prices were mixed though demand expectations continue to improve as vaccines are rolled out and, despite the latest virus spikes, economies gear up for a strong recovery.

Both main contracts are sitting around multi-year highs, helped by an American Petroleum Institute report that US stockpiles had fallen last week, with eyes now on Thursday’s meeting of OPEC and other key producers.

“We expect consumption to continue outstripping supply in the near term,” Howie Lee, at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, said. “With more people getting vaccinated, demand worries driven by the virus should continue to diminish.”

Key figures at 0810 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 28,791.53 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.6 percent at 28,827.95 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,591.20 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7074.14

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1898 from $1.1903 at 2040 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at 1.3830 from $1.3849

Euro/pound: UP at 86.03 pence from 85.92 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.52 yen from 110.53 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.3 percent at $73.18 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $74.71 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 34,292.29 (close)

— Bloomberg News contributed to this report —