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Asian Stocks Up Over COVID-19 Vaccine Enthusiasm, But Warnings Emerge

Stock MarketsFeb 15, 2021 10:16PM ET
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By Gina Lee – Asia Pacific stocks were up on Tuesday morning, with a rally in global shares continuing Tuesday. Bonds fell further, however, as optimism grows over the COVID-19 vaccines rollout.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.48% by 11:09 PM ET (3:09 AM GMT) and South Korea’s KOSPI edged up 0.12%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 were up 0.28%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index Index jumped 1.55%.

Chinese markets are closed for a holiday and U.S. markets were closed for a holiday overnight. The U.K. led gains in European stocks overnight, still glowing after hitting a milestone of inoculating 15 million Britons against COVID-19 on Feb. 14.

Ten-year Treasury yields jumped to 1.24%, their highest level in almost a year, with Australian equivalents following suit.

Global shares are set to record gains for a twelfth consecutive session, with the Treasury yield curve testing its steepest levels in over five years. Investor bets on improved economic growth and benign inflation are increasing, thanks to continuous government spending and global COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.

Some investors struck a note of caution amid all the optimism.

“Yields are a long way off causing damage to growth or the equity market outlook … earnings are growing, and secular themes are driving returns. However, complacency is dangerous,” Axa Investment Managers chief investment officer of core investments Chris Iggo warned in a note.

Other investors also strongly recommended keeping an eye on bond yields.

“If U.S. bond yields keep rising, that could start to unsettle stocks,” Sumitomo Mitsui (NYSE:SMFG) DS Asset Management chief strategist Masahiro Ichikawa told Reuters.

On the central bank front, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) released the minutes from its February meeting earlier in the day. The minutes showed that RBA believes that lifting inflation to more comfortable levels will take a significant and sustained tightening in the labor market, a tough task expected to take years to achieve. RBA also acknowledged that wage growth had been too subdued for years before COVID-19 imposed its own restraints on pay.

The U.S. Federal Reserve will also release the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s January meeting on Wednesday. Retail sales figures are also due on the same day.

European Union finance ministers will meet later in the day to discuss the region’s current economic situation and outlook. The region’s GDP and Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW) Economic Sentiment index are due to be released later in the day.

Meanwhile, oil prices soared to a 13-month high, with a severe snowstorm in the U.S. leading to a deep freeze and increased power demand, in turn threatening oil production in the state of Texas.

Asian Stocks Up Over COVID-19 Vaccine Enthusiasm, But Warnings Emerge

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