Asian investors shrug off weak US jobs numbers; markets close higher | Inquirer Business
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Asian investors shrug off weak US jobs numbers; markets close higher

/ 04:38 AM August 22, 2020

Hopes for a vaccine helped push Asian equities higher Friday following another tech-inspired record on Wall Street, with investors brushing off a surprisingly weak United States jobs report, though optimism remains checked by the spreading virus and the US stimulus stalemate.

While vast central bank support has helped fan a surge in equities globally, titans such as Amazon and Apple have been major winners as the pandemic keeps billions of people stuck at home, pushing the Nasdaq to numerous records, and Thursday marked the latest.

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The advances came despite news that 1.1 million Americans made new claims for unemployment benefits last week, reinforcing concerns about the world’s biggest economy.

However, observers said the reading could give warring lawmakers in Washington the kick-start they need to agree a new rescue package, having failed to reach a consensus after two weeks.

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But a tough week for regional markets looked set to end on a positive note, with optimism lifted after Pfizer and BioNTech SE said a vaccine they are working on could be up for regulatory review by October.

If all goes well, a treatment could be ready to roll out as soon as November.

While massive financial support from central banks and governments has been crucial to helping economies, a vaccine for a disease that has killed nearly 800,000 people and infected more than 22 million is seen as paramount.

The news “has raised some expectation … that life around the world could return to normal sooner than expected,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“This is not only for good market concerns, this is a world desperately anxious for a cure to put an end to the most severe global recession since the 1930s so people can start to piece their lives back together.

“From a stock market concern, it’s great for growth assets as planes will fly, the oil will flow, and laggard industries will emerge from the COVID-19 fog, and their stocks will soar. Indeed, with a vaccine cure, a trip to your local clinic could be the one-stop recession plugger before the year is out.”

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