Market Close Sep 14

Resumed vaccine trial sends bourses higher

AstraZeneca trials resume; Arm sale, new PM boost Tokyo stocks; European markets erase early gains on lockdown, Brexit worries

Resumed vaccine trials send bourse higher
People gather on Primrose Hill in central London in the late summer sunshine on Sunday, the day before the UK government brought in tightened coronavirus restrictions owing to a sharp rise in cases nationwide. The new "rule of six" in England will replace a raft of "complicated and confusing" regulations and help reverse the upward trend of infections. Photo: AFP

(ATF) Asian stocks closed higher on hopes that a coronavirus vaccine will be found soon after AstraZeneca said over the weekend it had resumed clinical trials of its leading candidate.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed before a vote that would see the much-anticipated selection of Yoshida Suga to replace Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Early gains on European markets following better-than anticipated French GDP figures were lost as tougher pandemic lockdowns and Brexit woes weighed on markets. 

Trials on one of the most advanced vaccines resumed at the weekend after being paused briefly when a volunteer fell ill. British regulators gave AstraZeneca and Oxford University the go-ahead to push on following an investigation.

The development of a vaccine is seen as key to getting the world economy back on track after the pandemic sparked trade-stifling lockdowns.

“A wild ride indeed and one that is likely to continue as phase-three vaccine results start to roll through over the coming weeks," NAB analyst Tapas Strickland said in a note on Monday. 

New surges

Britain, France, Austria and the Czech Republic were among European countries reporting surges, with new cases in the UK reaching more than 3,000 in 24 hours for the second day in a row on Saturday. New government restrictions come into force across England on Monday, limiting social gatherings to no more than six people.

Analysts said attention is turning increasingly to the November US presidential election, with Donald Trump battling to keep the White House against Joe Biden, who is leading in opinion polls.

"The focus on all the other danger points has meant the election has played a less meaningful role so far but, with the election just a few weeks away, something tells me it may soon move into the driver's seat," said AxiCorp's Stephen Innes.

"With election risk and the path to economic nirvana clouded by virus concerns, and while optimism remains keen on a vaccine to cure, it's bound to be another roller-coaster ride this week."

Tokyo stocks also rallied thanks to a 9% surge in SoftBank after it said Monday it is to sell British chip designer Arm to NVIDIA of the US for up to $40 billion in what would be one of the biggest purchases in the world this year.

Seoul jumped more than 1%, Jakarta surged more than 2% and Taipei put on 0.9%. Wellington, Mumbai and Manila were also up.

  • Additional reporting by Reuters, AFP

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Asia Stocks

  • Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.7%
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.6%
  • China’s CSI300 advanced 0.6%
  • MSCI Asia Pacific index added 0.9%