Asian markets mixed as inflation fears play against recovery hopes

Asian markets mostly down as traders prepare for big week

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HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell Monday following last week’s rally as investors prepare for a big week that could see the vaccine rollout begin in earnest and US lawmakers agree a new stimulus, while post-Brexit trade talks remain on a knife-edge.

But while the general consensus is for a strong recovery in 2021 as billions are inoculated, the surge in virus cases around the world and ongoing China-US tensions continue to keep a lid on sentiment.

Regional traders were unable to build on last week’s advances, despite all three Wall Street indexes chalking up records Friday thanks to signs of movement in US stimulus talks and hopes for the vaccine.

Optimism US lawmakers will finally agree a rescue package was given a boost Friday with data showing the world’s top economy created far fewer jobs than forecast in November as the country is battered by a frightening jump in infections that is forcing leaders to impose containment measures.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have revived efforts to hash out a deal for more aid, with both recognising the need for help for Americans as Christmas approaches.

Senators and their teams worked all weekend on a detailed bill, which “will probably come out early this week”, Republican senator Bill Cassidy told “Fox News Sunday”.

Pelosi has agreed to make the proposal the basis for negotiations on a final text.

Traders are also keeping tabs on the deployment of vaccines around the world, with Britain in line to start giving jabs this week, while US approval of its first drug could come as soon as Friday. Belgium, France and Spain have said jabs will begin in January for the most vulnerable.

“The deployment of vaccines is getting closer” and this is “continuing to help share markets look through the current problems with the virus and its economic impact”, said Shane Oliver, at AMP Capital Investors.

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