• By The Financial District


Asian shares advanced to record highs on Monday, February 15, 2021, and oil rose to a more than one-year peak as successful coronavirus vaccine rollouts globally raise hopes of a rapid economic recovery amid new fiscal aid from Washington, Swati Pandey reported for Reuters.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped 0.4% to 736.4. Japan’s Nikkei climbed 1.3%, despite data showing the country’s recovery from its worst postwar recession slowed in the fourth quarter.

Australia’s benchmark index was up 1%. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.2% in early Asian trading. US stock markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

The highlight of the week will probably be minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s January meeting, during which policymakers decided to leave rates unchanged.

Data on inflation is due from the UK, Canada, and Japan while Friday will see major economies including the US release the preliminary February purchasing managers’ indices (PMI).

Oil prices climbed to the highest since January 2020 on hopes US stimulus will boost the economy and fuel demand. Brent crude rose 61 cents to $63.04 a barrel. U.S. crude oil gained 83 cents to $60.03.

On Friday, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq set record closing highs. The Dow finished 0.1% higher at 31,458.4 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.5% to 3,934.83 and the Nasdaq added 0.5% to 14,095.47.

The dollar was slightly higher against the Japanese yen at 105.07 while the euro was flat at $1.2119 and the British pound was up 0.1% at $1.3868. The risk sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars were unchanged.

That left the dollar index steady at 90.426. Bitcoin was barely changed in early Asian trading at $48,722, slightly below a record high of $49,000. It posted gains of roughly 20% in a milestone week marked by the endorsement of major firms such as Elon Musk’s Tesla.