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Asia stocks jump as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine rise

Stocks in Asia traded higher Wednesday morning as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine rise.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 1.22% in early trade while the Topix index added 1.11%. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.31%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.68%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.39% higher.

Investors on Wednesday watched for reaction to the latest developments surrounding a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. Biotech firm Moderna‘s potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19 produced a “robust” immune response, or neutralizing antibodies, in all 45 patients in its early stage human trial, according to newly released data published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

Still, tensions between Washington and Beijing could weigh on investor sentiment. U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he signed legislation to impose sanctions on China in response to its interference with Hong Kong’s autonomy. Trump also said he signed an executive order ending Hong Kong’s special status with the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan is poised to release its outlook report at around 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN on Wednesday.

“The Bank of Japan is expected to leave monetary policy unchanged today,” Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note.

“Monetary policy settings in Japan were already extremely easy prior to the coronavirus pandemic,” Capurso said. “Looser monetary policy is unlikely to make much difference to Japan’s recovery in our view.”

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 556.79 points higher, or 2.1%, at 26,642.59. The S&P 500 finished its trading day 1.3% higher at 3,197.52 while the Nasdaq Composite closed nearly 1% higher at 10,488.58.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.177 after slipping from levels above 96.6 seen earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.20 per dollar after touching levels around 107.4 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6993 after rising from levels below $0.694 yesterday.

Oil prices edged higher in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.44% to $43.09 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.55% to $40.51 per barrel.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Japan: Bank of Japan’s outlook report at around 11:00 a.m. HK/SIN

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