TOKYO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose on Wednesday, tracking modest Wall Street gains, as expectations that a vaccine will eventually win the battle against the coronavirus fuelled recovery hopes, while tight supply expectations pushed oil prices to a one-year high.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.61%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.12%.
Chinese shares rose 0.07% while South Korea’s KOSPI gained 1.05%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 reversed losses and added 0.18%.
U.S. stock futures edged up by 0.18%.
Treasuries extended their rally, pulling benchmark 10-year yields further away from the highest in almost a year and causing the yield curve to flatten slightly.
Euro Stoxx 50 futures fell 0.03%, German DAX futures were up 0.03% and Britain’s FTSE futures were up 0.18%, pointing to a subdued start to European trade.
Investors are betting that the incoming Biden administration would ramp up U.S. distribution of coronavirus vaccines and spend big on more stimulus, which will contribute to a global economic recovery and increased demand for commodities, analysts say.
Hugh Young, head of Asia Pacific at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said he expected the investor interest in Asia seen in the second half of 2020 to be sustained this year.
“The eternal question is overvaluation. Asian markets have done extremely well, which is sort of frustrating, but certainly the quality is there in Asia, the momentum is in Asia so it looks to be a stable year and a positive year for Asia,” Young said on a panel at the Reuters Next conference.
On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated near unchanged for the session, not far from record highs. The Dow rose 0.19%, the S&P 500 gained 0.04% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.28%.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose 1.13% to $53.81 a barrel, reaching the highest since February after a larger-than-expected decline in U.S. crude inventories. Brent crude rose 1.27% to $57.30. [API/S]
Oil prices were also supported after Saudi Arabia said it plans to cut output by an extra 1 million barrels per day in February and March.
Some investors were monitoring developments in Washington after at least three Republicans said they would join Democrats in a vote expected on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump over the recent turmoil in the U.S. Capitol.
With seven days remaining in his term in office, Trump faces impeachment over accusations that he incited insurrection in a speech to his followers last week before hundreds of them stormed the Capitol, leaving five dead. Trump says his speech was appropriate.
An impeachment trial could proceed even after Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, but analysts say they don’t expect any further political turmoil in Washington to affect markets.
“Markets since the election have been quite strong because uncertainty factor has been removed,” said Peter Essele, head of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Boston.
Yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. government debt fell to 1.1240% on Wednesday, down from an almost one-year high of 1.1870% reached in the previous session after a well-received auction of new 10-year notes.
The yield curve, which had reached the steepest since May 2017 on expectations for big fiscal stimulus under a new Democratic administration, narrowed slightly to 97.5 basis points.
The dollar nursed losses on Wednesday as a retreat in U.S. yields snuffed out its recent rebound.
Against the yen, the greenback fell 0.12% to 103.65. The dollar also edged lower to $1.3683 against the British pound.
Safe-haven spot gold added 0.2% to $1,860.13 an ounce.