Asian markets continued to push higher Friday following another record-breaking performance on Wall Street as investors set their sights on a further huge US stimulus after Democrats took control of Congress.
The prospect of another massive splurge in the world’s biggest economy helped divert attention from soaring Covid-19 infection and death rates that have forced governments to once again lock down as they try to quickly roll out vaccinations.
After Wednesday’s extraordinary scenes in Washington that saw a pro-Donald Trump mob storm the Capitol complex, the president said he would allow for a smooth transition of power to Joe Biden and later called for “healing and reconciliation”.
While the violence shocked the world, investors brushed it off and analysts said Trump’s comments would provide a little more reassurance.
Traders are now looking forward to hearing what Democrats propose to do with their new powers, with expectations they will try to revive their titanic spending plans that were cast aside last year to push through a second stimulus with Republicans just before Christmas.
Among the first pieces of legislation could be a drive to increase the cash handout included in that rescue package from $600 to $2,000.
Observers also said earlier worries on trading floors that Democrats would try to hike taxes and pursue tighter regulations would likely disappear as lawmakers focus on eliminating the virus and reviving the economy.
And most agree that the prospects for 2021 are good, especially with the Federal Reserve pledging to keep interest rates at record lows for the foreseeable future and continue to provide vast sums as financial backup to businesses.
Axi’s Stephen Innes said that high amounts of liquidity, stimulus and high savings rates had created “the perfect conditions for speculation and asset price lift-off”.
Wall Street “expects a massive infusion either side of $1 trillion in the first quarter that is built around further stimulus cheques, funds for state and local governments, and enhancements to unemployment benefits, among other provisions”, Innes said, adding that a Biden presidency and the lifting of uncertainty from the White House was also a plus.
“Investors remain super bullish about the prospects for US equities in 2021. Effective vaccines mean consensus is aligned to a surge in economic activity and strong profit recovery.”
All three indexes on Wall Street closed at records, with the Dow ending above 31,000 for the first time, and Asia picked up the baton.
Tokyo and Singapore each jumped more than two percent, while Mumbai, Taipei, Jakarta and Bangkok all piled on more than one percent. There were also healthy gains in Sydney and Wellington, though Shanghai edged down.
Seoul climbed four percent, helped by a jump in Samsung after it reported strong fourth-quarter earnings, while car giant Hyundai rocketed 19.4 percent on the back of reports it was in talks with Apple for a joint project to manufacture self-driving electric vehicles.
Hong Kong was up more than one percent, but telecom giants fell again after MSCI said they would be removed from its benchmark indexes a day after having their New York shares delisted in response to a Trump administration call to bar Americans investing in them.
On currency markets, the dollar edged up or held gains as investors revel in the prospect of a big spending spree this year to kickstart the economy, while bitcoin broke $40,000 less than a week after cracking past $30,000.
Investors will be keeping an eye on the release later Friday of US jobs data for December, with fears of a weak reading, days after news that more than 100,000 people had lost their jobs in the private sector.
London and Paris started with gains, while Frankfurt opened at a record high.
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.4 percent at 28,139.03 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.2 percent at 27,878.22 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,570.11 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 6,878.63
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2261 from $1.2268 at 2330 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 103.88 yen from 103.81 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3580 from $1.3563
Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.27 pence from 90.44 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $51.30 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0 percent at $54.90 per barrel
New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 31,041.13 (close)
Asian Equities Track US Records As Stimulus Bets Roll In The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ International Business Times.