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GLOBAL MARKETS – Vaccine Hopes Boost Global Equity Markets

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Global stocks rebounded on Monday on hopes for a coronavirus vaccine after AstraZeneca resumed its Phase 3 trial, but caution persisted ahead of a slew of central bank meetings this week.

The pound, which has been hit by further Brexit turmoil, was on firmer ground ahead of a vote on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to violate international law by violating parts of the Brexit divorce treaty with the ‘European Union. European stock markets opened wide and US equity futures rebounded more than 1% – suggesting a good start for Wall Street later.

In Asia, the largest MSCI index of Asia-Pacific equities excluding Japan rose 0.9% to its highest level in nearly a week. Japan’s Nikkei strengthened 0.7% after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga won a landslide victory in a ruling party leadership election, paving the way for him to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Drug maker AstraZeneca said at the weekend it had resumed UK clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from watchdogs.

The news boosted sentiment in global equity markets, hit last week by a selloff in US tech stocks. “The weekend’s news of the resumption of clinical trials on AstraZeneca is likely to be welcomed, but it is unlikely to allay concerns that the speed with which these trials are being conducted could lead to the rush to rush too quickly. ‘a vaccine, with unforeseen circumstances,’ said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

US chipmaker Nvidia Corp has said it will buy UK-based chip designer Arm from Japanese group SoftBank for $ 40 billion as part of a deal to reshape the global semiconductor landscape, thus stimulating a gain of 1% in the European technology sector. Friday marked six months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.

Since then, the world’s major economies have entered recession and millions of people have lost their jobs, prompting central banks around the world to launch unprecedented stimulus measures. The US Federal Reserve is holding a two-day policy meeting this week and is expected to hold rates while developing an earlier announcement of a change in inflation target. The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England will announce their respective policy decisions on Thursday.

BREXIT WATCH Major currencies held steady on Monday with the British pound remaining above its 1 1/2 month low against the dollar ahead of parliamentary debate on the Home Market Bill. After the debate, lawmakers will vote on whether to take the next step.

Johnson’s decision to explicitly violate international law plunged Brexit back into crisis less than four months before Britain finally left the EU’s orbit at the end of a post-Brexit transition period. “The question will be how many Tory MPs (members of parliament) will rebel on this,” Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said, referring to Johnson’s ruling party.

The dollar was a little weaker at 106 yen, although it was still far from its low this year of 101.2. The euro was a little firmer at $ 1.1857. In commodities, US crude jumped 0.6% to $ 37.55 a barrel. Brent climbed 0.4% to $ 40 a barrel.

Gold was firm, with spot prices at $ 1,946.9 per ounce. Elsewhere, Turkey’s currency and dollar bonds came under pressure after Moody’s downgraded the country’s sovereign rating and warned of the risk of a balance of payments crisis. The lira weakened 0.2%, flirting with new record lows last week.

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