SHANGHAI- Asian shares climbed on Monday, with a broad regional index touching a record high on hopes for imminent coronavirus vaccines, but worries over the impact of economic lockdowns and uncertainty over US stimulus capped gains.
A top official of the US government’s vaccine development effort said Sunday that the first vaccines could be given to US healthcare workers and others recommended by mid-December.
Despite the grim backdrop of accelerating COVID-19 infections in the United States, the forecast helped to raise hopes that lockdowns that have paralysed the global economy could be nearing an end.
“With the vaccine on its way and the likelihood that economic damage being done by the virus will lift, we’ll still have in place substantial support from central banks and governments. And that is an economic sweet spot that should see a significant economic bounce,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
“It’s fascinating that investors are willing to focus on that aspect. It does require some pretty heavy squinting, including looking through the rising infection rates that we’re seeing right now. But there is a real optimism around it.”
Total US COVID-19 cases topped 12 million over the weekend and more than 255,000 have died.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.56 percent on Monday, pushing past a previous record high touched on Friday.
Seoul’s Kospi was 1.82 percent higher as an optimistic earnings outlook for South Korean chip giants drove gains.
Japanese markets were closed for a holiday, but Nikkei futures added 0.19 percent to 25,795.