Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region rose sharply today, lifted by vaccine optimism and the news that Japan’s economy grew faster than expected last quarter.
Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2% to fresh 29-year peak, extending its recent gains.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 1.1% to hit its highest since its launch in 1987, Reuters reports.
However, traders in Australia were left on the sidelines. The Sydney stock market had to suspend trading for the day after its stock market suffered technical problems.
Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, says:
With vaccine hopes on the rise, and central banks signalling globally that monetary policy will remain ultra-easy even if a vaccine does arrive, equity markets will remain either a straight to go, or a buy on the dip.
BBC: Japan leads economic ‘Zoom boom’ out of recession
The BBC says Japan’s return to growth is is part of a wider global economic recovery across Asia’s economics that has been dubbed a “Zoom boom”:
The global economy as a whole is expected to contract by 4.4% this year, while the US will shrink by 4.3%, according to the International Monetary Fund.
However, Asian economies are leading the way when it comes to showing signs of recovery. China remains on track to grow by about 2% this year, the most of any major economy.
“We call it the Zoom boom,” said Rory Green, an economist at research firm TS Lombard.
Also on Monday, China released new economic data that showed its factory output grew 6.9% in October, compared to the same month last year.
The Financial Times, though, points out that the 5% growth recorded in July-September certainly hasn’t repaired all the damage caused by Covid-19:
The partial rebound suggests a full recovery from the pandemic will prove protracted and difficult, especially if a recent rise in coronavirus cases develops into a larger wave. Japan recorded 1,722 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, the most recent day for which data was available, compared with 868 a fortnight earlier.
“The economy has come back steadily but the recovery is a work in progress,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s economy minister. “People are still in a defensive mindset.”
Japan returns to growth after Covid-19 slump
Japan has cheered global investors today by returning to growth, after the pandemic dragged its economy into an unprecedented recession.
Japanese GDP grew by 5% in the third quarter of the year — faster than expected, and the best quarterly growth on record after three quarters of contraction.
That follows a record downturn of around 8.2% in April-June, and means that Japan’s economy is still almost 6% smaller than it was a year ago.
Growth was driven by household spending, and a pick-up in net trade, as Japan benefited from rising demand at home and abroad.
However, business expenditure continued to fall (-3.4%), suggesting that firms are still understandably cautious given the health crisis.
Tokyo’s government warned that the economic situation was still tough, saying:
“The Japanese economy for July-September 2020 is still in a severe situation due to the COVID-19, but it is showing movements of picking up later in the quarter.”
Introduction: Vaccine hopes lift markets
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
After its best week since April, the UK stock market is beginning the new week on the front foot.
European equities have opened higher at the start of trading, as investors continue to grasp onto hopes of successful Covid-19 vaccine rollouts.
Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone, says investors are increasingly confident:
There is certainly elevated chatter that potential shutdowns in the US will weigh more in the near-term and maybe so, but investor sentiment is the most elevated since 2017 – two standard deviations of the mean of past 10 years [according to AAII].
Over the weekend, one of the scientists behind the BioNTech/Pfizer coronavirus vaccine predicted it would result in a “dramatic reduction in cases
Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of BioNTech, expressed confidence that the vaccine could halve transmission of the virus, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that:
“I’m very confident that transmission between people will be reduced by such a highly effective vaccine – maybe not 90% but maybe 50% – but we should not forget that even that could result in a dramatic reduction of the pandemic spread.”
Professor Şahin cautioned that the full impact of the vaccine would not be felt until next summer, but that life could be “back to normal” by next winter.
Another vaccine trial is beginning in the UK today, which will see around 6,000 British volunteers injected with a vaccine developed by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank says:
Markets will be on high alert for any further vaccine news, especially efficacy data from Moderna and AstraZeneca even if we don’t know the exact timings.
We could also hear that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will get FDA emergency use approval later in the week.
The rally comes despite ever more alarming Covid-19 data out of the US, where a record total of 184,000 new cases were reported on Friday.
- 1pm BST: ECB president Christine Lagarde speaks at the World Economic Forum’s Pioneers of Change Summit
- From 1pm BST: Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum