Asian markets mostly up but surging infections fuel fear

File: Hong Kong slipped as investors fret over a resurgence in the virus in the city that many fear could see economically painful containment measures reintroduced. AFP/Jung Yeon-je

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose again on Monday but investor sentiment remains divided between optimism over vaccine developments and concern about surging virus cases around the world.

A lack of movement in stimulus talks on Capitol Hill and a spat between the White House and Federal Reserve over cash for emergency lending facilities was also tempering the mood.

Hopes that the world can begin to return to some form of normal in the new year have been rising this month after top pharma giants announced better-than-expected results from trials of their vaccines.

Seoul and Bangkok led gains, each rallying nearly two percent, while Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Jakarta all rose more than one percent.

Sydney, Wellington, Manila and Mumbai also posted healthy gains. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

But Hong Kong slipped as investors fret over a resurgence in the virus in the city that many fear could see economically painful containment measures reintroduced. 

Cathay Pacific tumbled four percent as a planned Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble was called off. Singapore Airlines fell just 0.2 percent in Singapore.

"Market sentiment is likely to be caught near-term between negative Covid infection news... and positive vaccine news," said Patrik Schowitz, a strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

While vaccines are on their way, investors are keeping tabs on Washington, where lawmakers remain at loggerheads on a new, badly needed stimulus -- with analysts saying nothing will likely be agreed before Christmas.

Source
AFP

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