• By The Financial District

ASIAN SHARES WEAKEN AMID COVID VACCINE ENTHUSIASM

Markets showed little reaction to China’s industrial output, which grew in line with expectations in November, expanding for an eighth straight month as an economic recovery gathered pace. The number of coronavirus deaths in the United States crossed 300,000 on Monday as the hardest hit nation started its first vaccine inoculations.

“Considerable uncertainty surrounds the timeline for rollout but key safety milestones could be met by around mid-2021,” economists at Westpac said in a note. “Meanwhile several jurisdictions continue to struggle with major outbreaks with a particularly notable rise in cases in the US,” they said.


Most Asian markets retreated in early trade, with MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan falling 0.4%, having hit a string of record highs last week. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.1%. Chinese stocks were down 0.2%. Markets in Japan and South Korea, both grappling with surging infection numbers and growing public frustration, slipped 0.2% and 0.3%. Hong Kong gave up 0.5%. Australian stocks fell 0.3%, pulled down by heavyweight miners on fears of higher regulatory scrutiny over surging iron ore prices in top consumer, China.


On Monday, the S&P 500 closed down 0.4%, the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high but fell back 0.6% for the day. In foreign exchange markets, the British pound was steady against the dollar at $1.3332, after rising 0.8% on Monday as the UK and Europe agreed to continue Brexit talks.. It reached a 2 1/2-year high of $1.3540 earlier this month. The dollar traded near 2-1/2-year lows against major peers as demand for the safest assets flagged.