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Asian Markets Soar; Led by Airline Stocks as Investors React to Positive News on Coronavirus Vaccine

Markets in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Tuesday while airline stocks soared as investors in the region reacted to positive developments overnight on the coronavirus vaccine front.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.26% to close at 24,905.59 while the Topix index gained 1.12% to finish its trading day at 1,700.80. Over in South Korea, the Kospi closed 0.23% higher at 2,452.83.

In Southeast Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore jumped 3.37% in afternoon trade. The SET Composite index in Thailand also jumped more than 4%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were lower on the day: The Shanghai composite dipped 0.4% to about 3,360.15 while the Shenzhen component shed 1.045% to approximately 13,993.34.

China’s consumer price index rose 0.5% in October from a year ago, according to data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, as compared to expectations for a 0.8% increase in a Reuters poll. The producer price index for China declined 2.1% year-on-year in October, close to expectations in a Reuters poll of a 2% slip.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.1% to end its trading day at 26,301.48. Shares in Australia also advanced, as the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.66% to close at 6,340.50.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.1% higher.

Shares of airlines in Asia-Pacific surged in Tuesday trade. The sector has been among those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as a result of travel restrictions.

In Australia, Qantas gained 8.33%. Japan Airlines also saw its stock in Japan surge 21.21% while ANA Holdings advanced 18.06%. South Korea’s Korean Air Lines added 11.24%.

Over in Hong Kong, shares of Cathay Pacific popped 14.06% while China Eastern Airlines rose 7.93%. Singapore Airlines shares in Singapore soared 13.99%, as of around 4:30 p.m. local time.

Investor focus on Tuesday was likely on Pfizer and BioNTech’s Monday announcement that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection.

The reported efficacy rate was higher than expected, with scientists hoping for a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 75% effective, while White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has said one that is 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable.

Markets stateside surged on that news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 834.57 points higher at 29,157.97 — its biggest one-day gain since June 5. The S&P 500 gained 1.2% to finish its trading day at 3,550.50. The Nasdaq Composite, on the other hand, slipped 1.5% to close at 11,713.78.

After surging on Monday, oil prices rose further in the afternoon of Asia trading hours on Tuesday. International benchmark Brent crude futures were up 0.57% to $42.64 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also added 0.42% to $40.46 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.723 following an earlier high of 92.843.

The Japanese yen traded at 105 per dollar after weakening sharply from levels below 104.3 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7288 following its rise last week from levels below $0.72.