Asian shares will likely end 2020 by hovering near record highs on Thursday while riskier currencies drifted near 2-1/2-year peaks. They are holding up with hopes that COVID-19 vaccine rollouts will help the world beat the pandemic.
The upbeat mood reflected in overnight gains on Wall Street drubbed the dollar currency. However, it drove currencies such as the euro, sterling, the Australian dollar, and the New Zealand dollar overnight. These were highs not seen in more than 2-1/2 years.
E-Mini S&P futures were up 0.11% to 3,728.5. Japan excluded, MSCI’s gauge of Asia-Pacific shares changed at 661.76. It was a bit away from its record high of 661.80.
The MSCI index is up nearly 20% for the year, outpacing a 15.5% gain in the U.S. S&P 500.
Australian shares fell 0.23% while the Japanese stock market is closed on Thursday.
Hopes for a Brighter Year Ahead
Investors are looking forward to a brighter 2021. They will be eyeing China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for December. The PMI is due on Thursday at 0100 GMT.
Analysts anticipate the index to show China’s factory sector growing at a solid pace in December. The world’s second-largest economy steadily recoils from the coronavirus crisis.
Some analysts warned of this year’s heady gains in global stock markets. They cautioned that it could still mean a lot less room for further appreciation in 2021.
However, for now, healthy risk appetites kept investors from the U.S. dollar.
The greenback dropped 0.46% to 89.59 against a basket of currencies. It plumbed a low not seen since April 2018.
The dollar helped the euro stand firm at a 32-month high of $1.2298. Sterling also held steady at $1.3611, a level last seen in May 2018.
The antipodean currencies Australian and New Zealand dollar also held their ground at their 32-month highs. That is $0.7665 and $0.7215, respectively.