TOKYO – Asian shares closed lower on Tuesday amid uncertainty about Senate runoffs in Georgia, which could have a big impact on incoming US President Joe Biden’s ability to pursue his preferred economic policies.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.05 percent, pulling back from a record high. Australian stocks fell 0.26 percent.
Chinese shares erased early losses and rose 0.52 percent. In Hong Kong, China Mobile China Unicom , and China Telecom rallied by more than 6 percent after the New York Stock Exchange abandoned plans to delist the companies’ shares from its bourse.
Japanese shares lost 0.34 percent after a spokesman said the government will reach a decision on a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding cities on Thursday to curb coronavirus infections.
US S&P 500 stock futures edged up 0.03 percent. Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.39 percent. German DAX futures fell 0.34 percent, and FTSE futures fell 0.26 percent.
In the United States, control of the Senate is at stake with Tuesday’s dual runoff elections in Georgia.
A Democratic victory in both races could tip control of the Senate away from Republicans, but both contests are very tight and the results may not be immediately known, which could lead to a repeat of the chaotic vote re-counts after the US. presidential election last year.
“2021 starts with a bang with pivotal political and economic news for markets to digest.
The undisputed highlight will be the result of the Senate seat run-off elections in Georgia,” James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, wrote in a research memo.