Stocks climb

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    SYDNEY- Asian stocks rose on Wednesday as hopes of effective coronavirus vaccines and the growing prospect of more US fiscal stimulus cheered investors ahead of the Christmas holiday season. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan added 0.6 percent after two

    straight days of losses. The index, hovering near record highs, is up 3.3 percent so far in December and is on track for its best yearly performance since 2017 thanks to generous government and central bank stimulus around the world. Australian and New Zealand shares jumped over 1 percent each while South Korea’s KOSPI and Japan’s Nikkei were each up about 0.3 percent. Chinese shares started firm with the bluechip CSI 300 index adding 0.25 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.8 percent. “We expect many emerging market economies to continue to show positive momentum in 2021 led by Asia,” TD Securities wrote in a note, adding that, on aggregate, they would recover lost output from 2020. “China is likely to see a more rapid convergenceto pre-COVID GDP levels.”

    E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were a tad weaker in early Asian trading, off 0.1 percent. Overnight, US and European stocks, gold, oil and US Treasury yields were buoyant. The Dow rose 1.1 percent while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq climbed 1.3 percent each. Economically sensitive US stock sectors, including consumer discretionary and materials, led gains as investors viewed a recent spike in coronavirus infections and deaths, and a grim November jobs report, as drivers of a likely COVID-19 relief and stimulus bill.

    Optimism over a $1.4 trillion US spending package increased after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited other top congressional leaders to meet late on Tuesday to hammer out a deal to be enacted this week.