Asian markets poised for choppy day after Wall St's fall

Marco Green
December 1, 2020

A passerby wearing a protective face masks walks past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average and the exchange rate between Japanese yen against the US dollar, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan September 17, 2020.

Macy's Inc and Kohl's Corp slipped between 2.5% and 5% as masked shoppers turned up in smaller numbers at major USA retailers on Black Friday as early online deals and concerns about a spike in COVID-19 cases dulled enthusiasm for mall trips. In early Asian trade, Japan's Nikkei 225 futures added 0.68%.

More tangibly, Jeffrey Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial, points out that "if (COVID) cases continue to rise, we likely will see greater action by local governments to limit high-risk activities, which may further threaten the economic recovery".

"We've seen clearly a huge wave of liquidity coming to equities in response to the vaccine news and in response to USA election news", said Hamish Tadgell, a portfolio manager at SG Hiscock & Company.

The S&P 500 Energy Index is down more than 1%.

Gold futures settled at $1,768.40 per ounce, or a 0.8% decline.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe was roughly flat, and Australia's S&P ASX 200 was up 0.15%.

"U.S. markets were a little bit lower, that's what was holding us back a little bit", said Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone.

Investors remain optimistic that a successful COVID-19 vaccine will help jump-start a swift reopening of the economy in 2021.

But stocks have gained ground since the Nov 3 U.S. presidential election as investors now expect an uneventful transfer of power at the White House, even though President Donald Trump has not conceded the race to former vice-president Joe Biden.

Moderna surged 20.2 per cent after announcing it would file requests for emergency authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Europe, after full results confirmed a high efficacy estimated at 94.1 per cent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite delivered the same 11.8% monthly improvement after it closed Monday down 0.1% to 12,198.

Oil prices fell on uncertainty about whether the world's major oil producers would agree to extend its deep output cuts at talks this week. Brent crude, oil's worldwide benchmark, declined 2.8%, to $46.85 per barrel, at intraday lows.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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