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Asia-Pacific Stocks Mixed as Moderna’s Vaccine News Sends Airline Stocks Soaring

Asia-Pacific shares were mixed by the close on Tuesday even as vaccine hopes once again lifted Wall Street to record highs. Airline stocks in the region got a boost.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.42% to close at 26,014.62, after touching a 52-week high on Monday. The Topix edged up 0.16% to 1,734.66.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.21% to close at 6,498.20. The bourse resumed trading on Tuesday after a nearly full-day trading halt Monday that it said was due to a software issue which created “inaccurate market data.”

Mainland Chinese stocks were subdued. The Shanghai composite edged down 0.21% to close at 3,339.90, while the Shenzhen component declined 0.85% to 13,732.52.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was above the flatline in the afternoon while the South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.15% to 2,539.15.

Over in Singapore, the Straits Times index jumped nearly 1% in the afternoon. The country reported non-oil domestic exports that were far off expectations, falling 3.1% year-on-year, as compared to forecasts of a 5.7% rise, according to Reuters.

Wall Street was buoyed to record highs after Moderna said preliminary phase three trial data shows its coronavirus vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 470.63 points, or 1.6%, to close at 29,950.44. The 30-stock Dow logged intraday and closing record highs. The S&P 500 climbed 1.2% to 3,626.91, posting an all-time closing high. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.8% to 11,924.13.

That came after Pfizer and BioNTech announced last week that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective.

“Equity markets focused on the improving medium‑term growth implications, which appear to be brightening from H2 2021 onwards. Yet the current virus surge is stifling near-term growth prospects,” cautioned Felicity Emmett, a senior economist at ANZ, in a Tuesday note.

Outbreaks in the U.S. are still spiking, as the country added 1 million new cases of the virus in under a week. The country has now recorded more than 11 million Covid-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Airline stocks regionally jumped on the vaccine development. In Australia, Qantas rose 1.54%, while Air New Zealand jumped around 2.74%. Over in Japan, Japan Airlines jumped 3.72%, while All Nippon Airways surged more than 4%. Singapore Airlines bounced nearly 5%, and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific surged 7%.

Oil prices were subdued in the afternoon of Asia hours after jumping 3% on Monday on the back of positive vaccine news. U.S. crude futures edged down 0.12% to $41.29 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude futures were up 0.16% to $43.89 per barrel.

Oil stocks in Australia, too, saw gains by the close. Santos rose 3.41%, Oil Search surged 4.26%, and Beach Energy rocketed past 6%.

Meanwhile, copper prices hit a 29-month high on Monday, according to Reuters. That reflected optimism around demand in China after the country reported better-than-expected factory output in October.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was trading at 92.563, sliding from levels above 92.6 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.52 against the greenback, a touch firmer as compared to Monday. The Australian dollar was at 0.7303 against the dollar, strengthening from the 0.72 mark yesterday.