Shares buoyed by vaccine hopes

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    SYDNEY- Asian shares firmed on Monday on renewed hopes for a coronavirus vaccine after AstraZeneca resumed its phase-3 trial though sentiment was still cautious ahead of a big week of central bank meetings in UK, Japan and the United States.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.7 percent, poised for its second straight session of gains.

    Australian shares climbed 0.6 percent while Japan’s Nikkei added 0.7 percent. Chinese shares started firm with the blue-chip index rising 0.6 percent.

    US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, jumped more than 1 percent after a mixed session on Wall Street last week.

    Friday marked six months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.

    Since then, major global economies have slipped into recession and millions have lost their jobs, prompting central banks around the world to launch unprecedented stimulus.

    The policy bazooka has buoyed financial markets, with the S&P500 up 22 percent, 10-year Treasury yields diving 20.4 basis points and the greenback sliding 3.3 percent. The best performing major currency has by far been the Australian dollar, up 11.9 percent, thanks to sound risk appetite.

    “A wild ride indeed and one that is likely to continue as phase 3 vaccine results starts to roll through over the coming weeks,” NAB analyst Tapas Strickland said in a note on Monday.
    AstraZeneca said on the weekend it has resumed British clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from safety watchdogs.