Asian shares near record highs on hopes of US aid package

by Jonathan Adams
Asian shares rise

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2% at 717.2, Nikkei jumped 0.3%, while Australian shares added 0.5%

Asian shares hovered near record highs on Monday while oil edged closer to $60 a barrel on hopes a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package will be passed by U.S. lawmakers as soon as this month just as coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out globally.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last up 0.2% at 717.2, not far from last week’s record high of 730.6.

Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.3% while Australian shares advanced 0.5% led by technology and mining shares.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.3% in early Asian trading.

Hopes of a quicker economic revival and supply curbs by producer group OPEC and its allies pushed oil to its highest level in a year as it edged near $60 a barrel.

Global equity markets have scaled record highs in recent days on hopes of faster economic revival led by successful vaccine rollouts and expectations of a large U.S. pandemic relief package.

On Friday, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit all-time highs on stronger-than-expected corporate results in the fourth quarter and as companies were on track to post earnings growth for the first quarter instead of a decline.

The rallies came even as U.S. data painted a dour picture of the country’s labour market with payrolls rising by 49,000, half of what economists were expecting.

The weak report spurred the push for more stimulus, underscoring the need for lawmakers to act on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress forged ahead with their stimulus plan on Friday as lawmakers approved a budget outline that will allow them to muscle through in the coming weeks without Republican support.



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