Most Asia markets rise on weak US data, yen hits Tokyo
Most Asia markets rise on weak US data, yen hits Tokyo

Asian markets mostly rose Thursday as investors tracked a rally on Wall Street, with investors growing increasingly confident Joe Biden and Democrats will win the White House and both houses of Congress, paving the way for a huge new stimulus.

Donald Trump’s decision to break off talks for a second rescue package gave global traders a massive jolt this week but his call soon after for targeted help, including $1,200 handouts for Americans and help for small businesses, lifted hopes for some sort of deal.

But analysts said that while the end of the talks came as a blow, there are broad expectations that a new spending bill will be passed at some point as the economic recovery stutters and the coronavirus sees fresh spikes around the world.

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“The market realises that whoever wins, more than likely Biden now, there is going to be significant stimulus and additional infrastructure spending,” Andy Brenner, head of international fixed income at National Alliance, said in a note.

And the odds on a Biden win are shortening, with opinion polls putting him well ahead nationally and enjoying leads in battleground states such as Florida, where polling website FiveThirtyEight says Trump is losing the crucial senior vote.

A Biden victory and Democrats taking the Senate and House is also being priced into markets, observers said, as traders grow increasingly optimistic for a bigger rescue plan than what was being discussed before talks were curtailed Tuesday.

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The party had initially proposed a stimulus of more than $3 trillion before lowering it earlier this year.

All three major Wall Street indexes ended with gains of close to two percent.

Brexit talks in focus

Asia mostly followed suit. Tokyo and Taipei each climbed 0.9 per cent and Sydney put on more than one percent, while Seoul and Jakarta were also up.

Wellington jumped 1.6 per cent after the New Zealand central bank indicated it could unveil fresh economy-boosting measures. The country’s dollar sank 0.4 percent against the US dollar on the news.

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However, Hong Kong fell 0.8 per cent after four days of gains, while Singapore and Manila were each 0.3 per cent off.

“The prospect of the Democrats sweeping all three levels of government continues to support stock markets in the run-up to the election day, which would put the Democrats in a position to all but rubberstamp an energetic fiscal stimulus bill while lavishing the country with significant investment in health care, education, and infrastructure,” said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

“The only way traders will shift from this bias is if Trump recovers in the polls.”

However, he added that while investors were happy to take the pain of higher taxes and more market regulation for big stimulus, there could be a post-election drop in stocks as they comprehend such policies.

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The vice-presidential debate between incumbent Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris appeared to have little immediate impact on markets.

Brexit talks continue to play on nerves, with EU Council president Charles Michel saying the bloc was keen for a deal “but not at any cost”, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson reaffirmed London’s desire for an agreement but that it was prepared to walk away if none was reached by 15 October.

Fears the two will not reach a trade deal by next week’s summit are weighing on the pound and worrying markets, with many observers warning it would be economically devastating for Britain as it battles to recover from the coronavirus impact.