Asian Shares Mixed in Global Markets as Dollar Weakens

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On Thursday, Asian shares were mixed due to choppy trade on Wall Street, which was partly due to a disappointing jobs report in the US. Meanwhile, increasing optimism over the COVID-19 vaccine pushed the greenback to 2-and-a-half year lows. Britain became the first Western nation to approve a coronavirus vaccine, with 800,000 doses of the vaccine by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech available in the next week for people at high risk. Next week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States will hold its advisory committee. Andrew Cuomo, the New York Governor, said that the first delivery for the state is expected on December 15th and would be enough for 170,000 residents.

So far, the pandemic has taken the lives of 1.5 million globally, and hopes that it would finally come to an end brought a risk-on rally in the currency markets with the New Zealand and Australian dollars advancing against their counterpart in the US. The dollar index slid down to a fresh low in two-and-a-half years on Thursday at 90.948. Morgan Stanley said that the latest vaccine breakthroughs had prompted currency investors to take on more risk. Moreover, investor optimism also got a boost over hopes of an economic stimulus package in the United States.

However, share traders were not very enthused. The S&P 500’s e-mini futures remained slightly weaker, as did Dow futures. There was also a 0.1% decline in Eurostoxx 50, while London’s FTSE futures slipped by 0.4% and Germany’s Dax fell by 0.2%. Japan’s Nikkei remained unchanged in Asia while Australia’s benchmark index and South Korea’s KOSPI each climbed by 0.4%. Chinese shares also opened slightly lower, with a 0.2% decline for the blue-chip CSI300 index. New Zealand shares also weakened slightly. After gains for two days straight, there was a 0.4% jump in the broadest index of the MSCI for Asia-Pacific shares with the exception of Japan.

Analysts said that markets were going to muddle through from now because of the vaccine. A few months ago, there was no indication of how long the coronavirus would last or how the election would end. But now, there is no longer any uncertainty in both aspects. Shares were under pressure because of worries over the US economy decelerating after private payrolls in the country showed that fewer jobs had been added in November than expected, as businesses were put under restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Overnight, Wall Street was swinging between green and red territories, but eventually, it ended a bit strong. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones gained 0.2% each, while there was barely any movement in the tech-heavy Nasdaq. As far as currencies are concerned, the risk-sensitive Australian dollar reached a two-year high overnight. It’s New Zealand counterpart also reached its highest since May 2018. The euro also reached its loftiest level that had been last seen in April 2018. Oil prices declined on Thursday in the commodities market, as producers including Russia and Saudi Arabia locked horns over the need of extending production cuts.