Asian marts post gains

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    SYDNEY- Asian shares tried to rally on Monday as Wall Street continued to struggle with doubts about vaccine rollouts and economic recovery, while silver surged as newly empowered retail investors turned speculative eyes to precious metals.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan recouped early losses to rise 0.7 percent, bouncing after four straight sessions of losses.

    Japan’s Nikkei added 0.8 percent, after shedding almost 2 percent on Friday, while Chinese blue chips gained 0.5 percent as the country’s central bank injected more cash into money markets.

    Wall Street indexes pared their losses but futures for the S&P 500 were still off 0.3 percent, while NASDAQ futures fell 0.4 percent.

    Dealers were also warily awaiting new developments in the headline-grabbing battle between retail investors and funds that specialize in shorting stocks.

    US hedge funds bought and sold the most stock in more than 10 years amid wild swings in GameStop Corp, according to an analysis by Goldman Sachs Inc.

    Talk was that silver was the new target for the retail crowd as the metal jumped 5 percent to a six-month high.

    Yet many analysts see this entertaining episode as a sideshow compared to signs of a loss of momentum in the United States and Europe as coronavirus lockdowns bite.

    Indeed, two surveys from China showed factory activity slowed in January as restrictions took a toll in some regions.

    Neither was the news on vaccine rollouts positive, especially given doubts about whether they will work on new COVID strains.