Asia-Pacific markets set to trade higher as sentiment improves over coronavirus vaccine, U.S. stimulus hopes

  • Australia's benchmark ASX 200 rose 1.17%, with all sectors trading higher.
  • Futures also pointed to opening gains for the Nikkei 225 in Japan.
  • U.S. stock futures rose slightly after a record-setting session Friday on Wall Street.

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were set to trade higher Monday as sentiment improved around coronavirus vaccine rollouts and U.S. stimulus hopes.

Australia's benchmark ASX 200 rose 1.17%, with all sectors trading higher. Energy and mining stocks were up — shares of Rio Tinto rose 2.72%, Woodside Petroleum was up 1.43%, Fortescue was up 4.03% and BHP added 2.82%.

Futures also pointed to opening gains for the Nikkei 225 in Japan.

U.S. stock futures rose slightly after a record-setting session Friday on Wall Street.

Companies Pfizer and Moderna have applied for emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their coronavirus vaccines. They could be given the green light at some point in mid-December.

Meanwhile, the U.K. last week became the first country to authorize Pfizer's vaccine, which was developed with BioNTech.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at 90.794 against a basket of its peers. The dollar index fell from levels near 91.80 last week.

The U.S. dollar is expected to remain on a downtrend this week, according to currency strategists at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

"The recovering world economy undermines demand for the (dollar)," the strategists wrote in a Monday morning note. "Even if some economic data released this week is soft, we expect market participants to heavily discount it because the distribution of vaccines starting this month improves the medium-term economic outlook."

The Japanese yen changed hands at 104.19 against the greenback while the Australian dollar traded up 0.13% at $0.7431.

Oil prices traded lower Monday morning during Asian hours. U.S. crude futures were down 0.24% at $46.15 a barrel while global benchmark Brent last traded down 0.24% at $49.13.

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