asia

Democrats' sweep lifts Asia markets on hopes for even more US stimulus; STI up 1.4%


HONG KONG (AFP) – Most Asian markets rallied on Thursday (Jan 7) as election wins in the state of Georgia handed the Democrats control of the US Congress, paving the way for Joe Biden to push ahead with his legislative agenda that includes another huge stimulus package.

The news allowed investors to look past extraordinary events in Washington, where pro-Donald Trump protesters stormed the Capitol Building and delayed the ratification of Biden’s November victory.

“These political events rarely have a lasting impact on the direction of the economy,” Steven Wieting, at Citi Private Bank, told Bloomberg TV. Lawmakers later resumed their debate after the building was secured.

It also took attention away from soaring coronavirus cases around the world that are forcing governments to impose fresh lockdowns, with traders optimistic that the rollout of vaccines, though slower than hoped, will eventually allow life to get back to normal.

Analysts said there had been some concern that a clean sweep for the Democrats – taking the White House and both houses of Congress – would lead to higher taxes and regulation.

“But the markets are slowly coming to terms that this might be the best-case… outcome via a stimulus perspective complemented by a growing understanding that a Biden administration could make a big difference in coordinating and pushing out a national vaccination strategy that will bring herd immunity in the US much quicker than anticipated,” said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

He added that while the new president could undo a lot of Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, he is unlikely to look at those until he has dealt with the virus and got the economy back up and running.

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Alibaba Tumbles

The Dow and S&P 500 both ended at new records on Wall Street, though the Nasdaq reversed earlier gains on worries about possible Democrat-led regulation of big tech firms.

Asia followed suit, with Tokyo piling on 1.8 per cent, Sydney jumping 1.7 per cent and Seoul surging more than two per cent. Wellington was up more than one percent, while there also gains in Shanghai, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index was up 1.4 per cent at 11.34am local time.

Hong Kong was in the red, however, with market heavyweight Alibaba tumbling more than five per cent and Tencent diving 4 per cent following a report that the Trump administration is considering barring investment in their New York shares.

The Wall Street Journal said the State Department, Department of Defense and Treasury were holding talks on the move and considering what the effect would be on capital markets.

Telecom firms also took a hit after the New York Stock Exchange reversed course for a second time on Wednesday, saying it would delist them following a Trump order barring investment in firms with ties to the Chinese military.

The exchange had said it would remove them at the weekend, before doing a U-turn Tuesday but then changed course again after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin disagreed with the move.

China Unicom fell more than eight cent, while China Mobile and China Telecom dropped more than six per cent.





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