Wall Street, coronavirus, U.S. politics, currencies

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Japan looked set to rise at the open following a record session on Wall Street as coronavirus vaccine hopes and reduced uncertainty in U.S. politics buoy investor sentiment.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 26,490 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 26,440. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 26,165.59.

Meanwhile in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose about 0.7% in early trade.

Investors will monitor Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi after the firm posted a roughly 19% year-over-year surge in its adjusted net profit for the three months ended Sept. 30.

“Our global smartphone shipments rose to the 3rd position in the third quarter of 2020, with an all-time high market share of 13.5%, according to Canalys,” Xiaomi said in a statement.

Wall Street surge

Strong overnight gains on Wall Street will likely lift investor sentiment in Asia-Pacific on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 30,000 for the first time as it gained 454.97 points to 30,046.24. The S&P 500 also saw a record close, rising 1.6% to 3,635.41. The Nasdaq Composite added 1.3% to finish its trading day at 12,036.79.

Positive momentum in the race for a coronavirus vaccine has boosted global markets. Earlier this week, AstraZeneca announced that interim analysis showed its vaccine has an average efficacy of 70% in protecting against the virus.

Uncertainty in U.S. politics has also eased after the Trump administration officially began the transition process to President-elect Joe Biden following weeks of delay.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.161 after seeing levels above 92.4 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.53 per dollar, having weakened from levels below 104 against the greenback this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7363, following levels below $0.732 seen yesterday.

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