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Pandemic panic returns as risk rally halts

(ATF) Hong Kong: Asian markets retreated on Thursday as infections spreading rapidly around the world stoked worry about the reimposition of stricter lockdowns, which would hurt the fragile economic recovery.

“Concerns over the near-term impact of the recent spike in cases overshadowed additional positive developments on the vaccine front, as investors worry about the immediate impact of lockdowns on the economy,” Prakash Sakpal, a senior economist for Asia at ING, said.

“Investors will likely remain focused on the rising Covid-19 count in the coming days even if drug makers announce they are close to applying for emergency use authorisation from authorities.”

Data from Oxford University’s phase-2 vaccine trial published on Thursday showed it could help build immunity in healthy adults aged from 56-69 and over 70 years old.

Ahead of today’s announcement, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna had already reported positive preliminary data from phase-3 trials.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index eased 0.36% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.71% but China’s CSI300 jumped 0.74% after President Xi Jinping said the Chinese economy would remain open to trade and warned against countries that embrace protectionist measures. 

“We will further reduce tariffs and institutional costs… and expand imports of high-quality products and services from all countries,” he said.

Adding to the sentiment, Premier Li Keqiang said “all policies should centre on market entities’ demands.”

US Treasuries gained as risk appetite soured, with the 10-year yield falling 2 basis points to 0.85% and the demand for fixed income products helped China price a multi- tranche euro-denominated bond at record low rates.

China’s Ministry of Finance priced its 4-billion-euro, 5-, 10-, and 15-year senior bonds with coupons of 0%, 0.250% and 0.625%.

“Similar to its USD bonds just issued last month, the MoF’s EUR bonds are also very well received by the international investors. The 5-year tranche even achieved a negative yield,” said David Yim, Head of Capital Markets, Greater China & North Asia, at Standard Chartered Bank.

Also on Asia Times Financial

Ant Group IPO swept off the table 

Xi vows to keep China open to trade

China crackdown fuels bitcoin surge

Australia and South Korea team up on rare earth production

Why Taiwan is booming as the world economy sinks

Asia Stocks

· Japan’s Nikkei 225 index eased 0.36%

· Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged up 0.25% 

· Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.71%

· China’s CSI300 jumped 0.74%

· The MSCI Asia Pacific index dipped 0.22%.

Stock of the day

Xiaomi Corporation rose as much as 5.8% after a report its smartphones had passed trials of 5G messaging functions. 

Umesh Desai

Umesh Desai is the Executive Editor at Asia Financial. Prior to this he spent over two decades with Reuters News as Asia Pacific Chief Correspondent in Hong Kong and Bureau Chief in Bombay. Before becoming a journalist Umesh was a credit ratings analyst with Moody's arm in India - ICRA. A chartered accountant by training, Umesh began his career as an equity analyst. His Twitter handle is @umesh_desai


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