SYDNEY/BOSTON- Stock markets gained on Wednesday, as news of a working COVID-19 vaccine seemed to inoculate investors against worry about surging infections in Europe and the United States, while the kiwi rose as traders thought the central bank sounded upbeat.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent and Japan’s Nikkei rose 1 percent, although most of the action was switching between sectors within markets, as investors shift from coronavirus winners into some of the hardest hit sectors.
Banks, for example, made modest additions to Tuesday gains, as did energy and some travel stocks while tech companies fell. Oil futures sat by two-month highs on anticipation of better demand in a post-pandemic world.
Currency markets were mostly steady save for the kiwi, which climbed half a percent to a 19-month high after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept rates on hold, as expected, but sounded less dovish than forecast about the outlook.
Other majors and fixed income markets were mostly flat with traders unwilling to extend a selloff in the haven assets of bonds and the yen while a trying northern winter looms.
S&P 500 futures wobbled either side of flat and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.4 percent after another session of Wall Street selling of hitherto soaring big tech firms.
“A rotation theme remains evident in equity markets,” said National Australia Bank strategist Rodrigo Catril in a note.
“Big tech, which has benefited from our virus-driven change in behavior, is now falling out of favor while small-cap stocks and those that have been most affected by social distancing restrictions have outperformed.”
Amazon.com Inc was also under pressure overnight after European authorities filed an antitrust suit against the online retailing giant.
It has suffered its sharpest two-day drop since March, shedding 8 percent, though has gained 64 percent this year.