Picture used for illustrative purpose. File
Asian shares firmed on Monday on renewed hopes for a coronavirus vaccine after AstraZeneca resumed its phase-3 trial though sentiment was still cautious ahead of a big week of central bank meetings in UK, Japan and the United States.
Most major markets across Asia were in the green with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rising 0.9% for its second straight session of gains.
Australian shares climbed 0.6% while Japan's Nikkei added 0.7%. Chinese shares started firm but pared some of the early gains with the blue-chip index last up 0.1%.
Friday marked six months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.
Since then, major global economies have slipped into recession and millions have lost their jobs, prompting central banks around the world to launch unprecedented stimulus.
The policy bazooka has buoyed financial markets, with the S&P500 up 22%, 10-year Treasury yields diving 20.4 basis points and the greenback sliding 3.3%. The best performing major currency has by far been the Australian dollar , up 11.9%, thanks to sound risk appetite.
A vaccine has long been awaited to help pull the world out of a coronavirus-induced lockdown.
"The reopening of the global economy is enticing us to recommend a trade going long a basket of 14 laggard 'back to work' stocks versus a basket of 14 high-flying 'COVID-19 winners'," BCA Research wrote in a note.
The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England will announce their respective policy decisions on Thursday.
Market focus will also be on the election of Japan's new Prime Minister with results of a party room vote expected around 0630 GMT.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.6% to 23,214.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.5% to 5,964.90, while South Korea's Kospi added 0.6% at 2,285.09. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up earlier gains, sinking 0.7% to 23,146.61. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.4% to 3,209.85.
Shares rose in India but fell in Taiwan and Thailand.
The pan-European STOXX 600 gained 0.5%, building on a 5% rally this week as investors bought into utilities as well as travel-related stocks. Asian shares rose on Wednesday after the announcement of a COVID-19 vaccine that is more than 90% effective.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4% by 09:45 GMT and hit a fresh high since late February, with energy and banking sectors leading gains, while in Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.71% on Monday, pushing past a previous record high touched on Friday.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.3% in afternoon trading to 23,511.62, while South Korea's Kospi added 1.4% to 2,310.85. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost earlier gains to slip 0.2% to 5,952.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.8% to 23,429.81, while the Shanghai Composite index inched less than 0.1% lower to 3,216.46.
The IMF board of governors on Monday greenlit a $650 billion increase in cash reserves for member nations, the last step in an initiative to boost liquidity for the most vulnerable countries. The move increases by 456 billion the stock of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), the International
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