A TV set showing the broadcast of the inauguration of US President Joe Biden is seen behind a monitor showing Nikkei stock index at the trading room of foreign exchange trading company Gaitame.com in Tokyo, Japan, on January 21 2021. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON
A TV set showing the broadcast of the inauguration of US President Joe Biden is seen behind a monitor showing Nikkei stock index at the trading room of foreign exchange trading company Gaitame.com in Tokyo, Japan, on January 21 2021. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

Shanghai/New York — Asian stocks rose to new record highs on Thursday, tracking US markets as investors hoped for more economic stimulus from newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden to offset damage wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Republicans in the US Congress have indicated they are willing to work with the new president on his administration’s top priority, a $1.9-trillion US fiscal stimulus plan, but some are opposed to the plan’s price tag. Democrats took control of the US Senate on Wednesday, but will still need Republican support to pass the programme.

But after record high closes on Wall Street overnight, markets in Asia reflected relief over an orderly transition of power and strong expectations that US stimulus will provide continued support for global assets.

Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, said Democratic control of the Senate “increases not just the probability of more fiscal [stimulus], but the magnitude”.

“That means that this market should be way, way, way higher as a whole and we’re going to get there. We’re entering this regime of even more accelerated asset class inflation,” he said.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan touched record highs and was last up 0.85%, with markets across the region posting gains.

Chinese blue-chips added 1.2%, Australian shares climbed 0.69% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng breached the 30,000 level, rising 0.31%.

Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.72%, less than 1% off three-decade highs reached last week.

The rises in Asia followed fresh record highs on Wall Street overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.83%, the S&P 500 gained 1.39% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.97%. On Thursday, e-mini futures for the S&P 500 ticked up to new records, and were last up 0.26%

“The market is still taking a sanguine view to tighter regulatory/tax risks given the narrow Senate majority, while still expecting additional fiscal stimulus,” Tapas Strickland, an economist at National Australia Bank, said in a note.

Tech shares stood out after Netflix said it would no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its TV shows and movies, prompting its shares to surge nearly 17%.

Along with Netflix, the rest of the Faang group — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet (formerly known as Google) — scheduled to report results in the coming weeks, jumped. Google parent Alphabet rose 5.36%.

As equity gauges rose, US stimulus hopes weighed on the greenback, pushing the dollar index down 0.1% to 90.319.

The dollar was flat against the yen at 103.52 and the euro gained 0.2% on the day to $1.2124.

Benchmark US 10-year treasury notes yielded 1.0836%, down slightly from a US close of 1.09% on Wednesday.

In commodity markets, oil prices eased on an unexpected rise in US crude stocks. US West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 0.56% to $53.01 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.4% to $55.85 a barrel.

Spot gold was flat at $1,871/oz.

Reuters

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