Asian stocks edge higher as Biden cements presidential win

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Asian shares eked out gains on Friday and U.S. stock futures turned higher after U.S. president-elect Joe Biden was projected to win the battleground state of Arizona, cementing his win for the office.

The projection by Edison Research dealt another blow to President Donald Trump’s struggling effort to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

S&P 500 e-mini futures EScv1 inched out of negative territory on the news but without much conviction, and were last up just 0.03%.

European futures remained resolutely dour, with pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures STXEc1 down 0.67%, German DAX futures FDXc1 down 0.6% and FTSE futures FFIc1 off 1.1%.

That came after selloffs in the United States and Europe on Thursday as investors feared the economic impact of accelerating coronavirus infections.

The United States has reported fresh daily records for new COVID-19 case hospitalisations this week, prompting cities and states, including Chicago, Detroit and California, to re-impose public health restrictions.

European officials have also warned against complacency and said measures to control infections must continue despite hopes that vaccines under development could help to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday during a discussion with other central bankers that progress in developing a coronavirus vaccine was welcome news but that near-term economic risks remain as infections accelerate, underscoring the likely need for additional government stimulus.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asian shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.1%, reversing earlier losses. For the week it rose about 0.7%.

But apart from a 0.71% gain in Seoul’s Kospi .KS11, most major regional indexes were lower on Friday.

Australian shares .AXJO lost 0.2%, the Hang Seng .HSI was 0.48% lower and Chinese blue-chips .CSI300 slumped 1.57%, dragged lower by the Trump administration’s decision to ban U.S. investments in firms linked to the Chinese military, and by a series of high-profile bond defaults by state-owned enterprises.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 .N225 fell 0.57%.

Some investors saw a buying opportunity in the market weakness.

“My view is this is the dark just before dawn,” said Michael Frazis, portfolio manager at Frazis Capital Partners in Sydney.

“You’ve got the second wave of coronavirus, new sets of shutdowns, clear problems around the world, travel dropping off again… But at the same time, we have the strongest possible evidence that we do have a vaccine…”

Source: Reuters

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