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Asian Stocks Rise, But Rising COVID-19 Cases Worry Markets

Asian shares were mostly up, Monday morning, but the worsening pandemic and prospects for U.S. stimulus measures remain. The virus surge remains in investor’s minds, and it continues to challenge global economic recovery.

By 9:24 PM ET (2:24 AM GMT), the Hang Seng Index of Hong Kong rose 1.43%. The city’s first-ever lockdown was lifted earlier in the day after a COVID-19 testing program came to completion. During the lockdown, around 10,000 people living in the Jordan and Yau Ma Tei areas were affected. 

China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.39% while the Shenzhen Component lost 0.30%. The country continues to deal with its latest COVID-19 outbreak. 

On Jan 24, the National Health Commission recorded 124 cases, up from 80 today earlier. It is the worst wave of new infections seen since March 2020.

Nikkei 225 of Japan gained 0.45%, and South Korea’s KOSPI rose 1.54%. Australia’s ASX 200 climbed 0.41%. 

Stocks’ had a positive start this week. However, the global economy is facing a tougher-than-expected start to 2021. New coronavirus cases globally show no signs of slowing down and lags in vaccine rollouts. 

Uncertainties whether U.S. President Joe Biden will muster Republican support are starting to creep in. These doubts concern his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package to pass through Congress.

Global coronavirus cases are fast approaching 100 million in number. As of Jan 25, the number of deaths has surpassed 2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Vaccine Rollouts 

Delays in consignments by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) of their respective vaccines hampered vaccine rollouts. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described this as “unacceptable” in a Facebook post.

On Sunday, U.K. health minister Matt Hancock warned that existing vaccines could be less effective against new COVID-19 variants. 

There was one negative COVID-19 news story after another on Friday, something which equity investors ultimately could not ignore. According to the National Australia Bank (OTC:NABZY), head of the forex strategy Ray Attrill.

Later in the day, China President Xi Jinping will speak at the World Economic Forum’s “The Davos Agenda 2021” online. Topics discussed at the event include fair economic and social systems. Digitization and the climate crisis will also take up at the event. 

PBOC Governor Yi Gang and ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane will be speaking at a conference later in the day. Also, due to hand out, its policy decision on Wednesday is the Federal Reserve.

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