Asian stocks swing as virus, unrest offset vaccine, stimulus


HONG KONG, Jan 12: Asian markets fluctuated Tuesday as hopes for the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and a new stimulus out of Washington competed with fears over surging infections, new lockdowns and brewing political and social unrest in the United States.
While analysts’ long-term outlook remained positive as more people are inoculated and life returns to normal, frighteningly high new case numbers and deaths around the world – and the resulting lockdowns – kept a cap on buying.
Germany’s BioNTech provided some good news as it said it expected to produce 2 billion doses of its vaccine this year, up from the previous forecast of 1.3 billion, lifting hopes that more people could get the jab earlier.
That came as seven mass vaccination sites were opened across England, where a new strain of the disease is putting huge pressure on the National Health Service that has forced leaders to ramp up economically painful containment measures.
The main focus of attention for traders is Washington, where Democrats are pushing ahead with a historic second impeachment of Donald Trump as they accuse him of inciting Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol Building that delayed lawmakers’ certification of Joe Biden’s election win.
Observers said the chances of Trump being convicted were slim but there was a concern that the latest moves could foment more unrest, with some reports saying the president’s supporters were planning fresh demonstrations at the weekend and during Biden’s inauguration next week.
There is a worry that the move by the Democrats could distract from their plans for a new, bigger stimulus bill to fight off the effects of the rampaging virus with some warning the row could overshadow the new president’s first few months in office.     -AFP

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