Shares flat


    SYDNEY- Asian shares got off to a subdued start on Monday as surging coronavirus cases in Europe and the United states threatened the global outlook, while China’s leaders meet to ponder the future of the economic giant.

    The United States has seen its highest ever number of new COVID-19 cases in the past two days, while France also set unwanted case records and Spain announced a state of emergency.

    That combined with no clear progress on a US stimulus package to pull S&P 500 futures down 0.5 percent. EUROSTOXX 50 futures eased 0.4 percent and FTSE futures 0.3 percent.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan went flat, still short of its recent 31-month peak. Japan’s Nikkei dithered either side of steady, and South Korea’s main index lost 0.3 percent.

    Chinese blue chips shed 1.1 percent as the country’s leaders met to chart the nation’s economic course for 2021-2025, balancing growth with reforms amid an uncertain global outlook and deepening tensions with the United States.

    A packed week for monetary policy sees three major central banks hold meetings. The Bank of Canada and Bank of Japan are expected to hold fire for now, while the market assumes the European Central Bank will sound cautious on inflation and growth even if they skip a further easing.

    Data due out Thursday is forecast to show US economic output rebounded by 31.9 percent in the third quarter, after the second’s quarter’s historic collapse, led by consumer spending.

    Analysts at Westpac noted that such a bounce would still leave GDP around 4 percent lower than at the end of last year, with business investment still lagging badly.

    “To fully recover the activity lost, additional meaningful fiscal stimulus is a must,” they argued in a note.