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Asian Markets Trade Higher as Investors React to BoJ’s Quarterly Tankan Survey

Stocks in Asia-Pacific mostly rose in Monday trade, as investors in the region react to the approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.52% while the Topix index rose 0.92%.

The Bank of Japan’s quarterly tankan survey showed on Monday business sentiment in Japan improving in the three months to December. The headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment improved to minus 10 as compared with minus 27 in September. A median market forecast had expected the figure to come in at minus 15, according to Reuters.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher by the afternoon: The Shanghai composite was 0.4% higher while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.548%. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong, on the other hand, dipped 0.1%.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore’s Straits Times Index led gains among the region’s major markets as it rose around 1.5%. The country’s prime minister said in a Facebook post Sunday that he will be giving a live address on Monday at 5 p.m. Singapore time on the Covid-19 situation as well as the outlook for next year. The number of Covid-19 cases in the city-state has remained low for the past several weeks, with zero or one new case reported in its daily statistics.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi hovered above the flatline. South Korea has been dealing with a recent resurgence in coronavirus infections, with the country reporting its largest daily caseload ever on Sunday, according to local news agency Yonhap.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia edged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 up around 0.5%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.15%.

In coronavirus developments stateside, CDC Director Robert Redfield has signed off on Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, allowing inoculations to officially move forward for people ages 16 or older. That came following the FDA emergency authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine. The U.S. has begun to ship the doses to hundreds of distribution centers across the country.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.788 after recently seeing levels above 91.

The Japanese yen traded at 104 per dollar following a strengthening last week form levels above 104.4 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7535, having risen from levels below $0.749 last week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.62% to $50.28 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also rose 0.56% to $46.83 per barrel.

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