Asian stocks rise on Biden transition, vaccine progress

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    WASHINGTON/HONG KONG- Asian shares climbed on Tuesday as news US President-elect Joe Biden was given the go-ahead to begin his White House transition added to an already brighter mood from progress made on COVID-19 vaccine and the prospects for a speedy global economic revival US General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden on Monday that he can formally begin the handover process.

    President Donald Trump tweeted that he had told his team “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols”, an indication he was moving toward a transition after weeks of legal challenges to the election results.

    US stocks also got an added boost after reports that Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, to become the next Treasury Secretary. Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.48 percent in early Asian trade.

    The upbeat backdrop helped MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advance 0.15 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 1.1 percent stronger, touching its highest level in almost nine months, with energy stocks leading the pack.

    Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.48 percent while Seoul’s Kospi was 0.74 percent higher.

    Chinese blue-chips and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng were however outliers, edging down 0.75 percent and 0.08 percent.

    The progress made on COVID-19 vaccines, which had underpinned Wall Street overnight, helped keep risk appetite elevated as it boosted optimism about a quicker revival for the global economy.