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Asian Markets Mostly Higher; Oil Reverses Losses,Gains

Asia-Pacific markets traded mostly higher on Wednesday as a coronavirus vaccine rollout commenced in the U.K., fueling some of the optimism among investors.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.33% to 26,817.94 and the Topix index gained 1.17% to 1,779.42. South Korea’s Kospi index added 2.02% to 2,755.47.

In Australia, the ASX 200 rose 0.61% to 6,728.50 with most sectors closing up. Major miners advanced as shares of Rio Tinto rose 0.37%, Fortescue was up 1.58% and BHP added 1.14%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.6% in late-afternoon trade.

Chinese mainland markets bucked the generally positive trend: The Shanghai composite fell 1.12% to 3,371.96, the Shenzhen composite was down 1.882% at 2,250.80 and the Shenzhen component fell 1.84% to 13,716.53.

Data showed China’s consumer price index fell in November for the first time in about a decade as food prices declined.

Major indexes in India and Singapore also traded higher in afternoon trade.

The session in Asia followed gains overnight on Wall Street where stocks rose to fresh all-time highs — the S&P 500 closed above 3,700 for the first time.

“Market moves were modest with little in the way of other news or data,” Tapas Strickland, director for economics and markets at the National Australia Bank, wrote in a morning note.

The U.K. administered the first Covid-19 vaccines to the public on Tuesday, making it one of the first countries in the world to do so. The Pfizer-BioNTech shots gained emergency approval from the U.K. drug regulator last week and will be given first to front-line health workers, nursing home workers and those over age 80.

“The US is also expected to give emergency use authorisation with the US FDA publishing briefing documents that concluded it had ‘a favourable safety profile’ and the FDA’s vaccine’s committee is meeting on Thursday,” Strickland wrote.

The Food and Drug Administration said data from Pfizer’s vaccine trials was consistent with recommendations the agency put forth for an emergency use authorization.

Traders are also closely watching negotiations in the U.S. for additional fiscal stimulus as coronavirus infection cases in the country continue to rise.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, fell 0.24% to 90.746 at 3:13 p.m. HK/SIN, declining from an earlier level around 90.926.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 104.20 per dollar, staying relatively flat. Elsewhere, the Australian dollar ticked up 0.47% to $0.7446.

Oil prices reversed earlier losses on Wednesday during Asian trading hours: U.S. crude retraced losses to trade up 0.22% at $45.7 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent erased losses to trade up 0.14% at $48.91.