SYDNEY- Asian shares were mixed on Thursday after a choppy day of Wall Street trade, thanks in part to a disappointing US jobs report, while the greenback languished near 2-1/2 year lows on growing optimism of a coronavirus vaccine.
Britain became the first Western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, with 800,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine available for those at high risk starting next week.
The US Food and Drug Administration is holding its advisory committee meeting next week, while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the state’s first delivery, enough for 170,000 residents, is expected on Dec. 15.
Hopes that the pandemic, which has so far killed nearly 1.5 million globally, will finally be brought to its knees sparked a risk-on rally in currency markets with Australian and New Zealand dollars advancing against their US counterpart.
The dollar index slipped to 2 1/2-year low of 90.987 on Wednesday and last stood at 91.048.
“Currency investors are taking on more risk following the latest vaccine breakthroughs, options show,” Morgan Stanley said in a note. Hopes of a fiscal support package in the United States also boosted investor optimism.
But share traders were less enthused.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan were barely changed following two straight days of gains.
Japan’s Nikkei was 0.2 percent weaker while South Korea’s KOSPI was flat and Australia’s benchmark index was slightly higher. Chinese shares opened a tad lower, with the blue-chip CSI300 index off 0.03 percent.