Asian markets subdued on US Independence Day
With the US on holiday, activity in Asia was always going to be muted today. The less than stellar rise of US indices overnight post the employment data, and China tensions, also seem to be reigning in optimism.
Nevertheless, stock markets have crept into the green across the region today, as Wall Street’s leading indices did close between 0.50% and 1.0% higher overnight. The Nikkei 225 has crept 0.25% higher today, with the Kospi up 0.50%. Mainland China is outperforming as new COVID-19 cases fall from the Beijing outbreak. The Shanghai Composite and CSI 300 are up around 0.80%.
Progress on Covid-19 Vaccine
Pleasingly, some real progress appears to be being made on the Covid-19 vaccine front. By my count this week alone, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, along with their partners, are all on the verge of commencing phase III mass trials. My anti-black swan for 2020 has been that a vaccine appears in Q4 2020 with immediate deployment thereafter.
That the US President will put his chloroquine tablets down and claim credit for it is a given. Where and who gets vaccinated first will, I suspect, show potentially the best and worst sides of humanity.
Although the US holiday today will thin trading volumes around the world, the day is not without intrigue. Australia and China have both posted impressive data this morning, confirming that the recovery in these two key economies remains on track. China’s Caixin Services PMI easily exceeded forecasts, climbing to 58.4.
Australia, meanwhile, posted a record climb in May Retail Sales of 16.90%, albeit off a low COVID-19 base. Both data points, though, emphasise that life is returning rapidly to their respective domestic economies. That should ensure that equities in Asia, continue their rally from yesterday and end the week on a positive note.
Regionally, Hong Kong continues its money talks, protestors walk rally, the Hang Seng rising by 0.40%. Singapore retail sales plunged 52.1% in May, a sixteenth straight decline. China’s retaliatory threats are weighing on Australian markets today. The ASX 200 is higher by only 0.10%, with the All Ordinaries up by 0.40%.
Asian stocks should close out the week in positive territory, but their performance thus far today, suggest that they are vulnerable to negative headlines during the session.