World markets are mixed after weakness in technology companies’ shares led an overnight decline on Wall Street
Shares advanced in London, Paris and Shanghai but fell in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
As coronavirus vaccines move closer to distribution, markets have been pushing higher on hopes the pandemic will begin to ease, allowing economies to recover.
A vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which is already in use in the U.K., is on track for a positive review and potential approval in the U.S. within the next week. The Food and Drug Administration will also consider a vaccine developed by Moderna later this month.
In other developments, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to extend until Sunday efforts to end four years of diplomatic heartburn and salvage a trade deal for after the UK’s departure from the bloc. Otherwise, they face a tumultuous no-deal split at the end of the month, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in losses.
The recent surge in coronavirus cases in many countries and tighter restrictions on businesses to counter them have again raised the importance of a vaccine and for more help for beaten down businesses.
“Stocks have not fallen too far out of bed as the market knows that stimulus in some form is coming,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary. “Vaccine brightens the medium-term outlook, but what about us over the months to come, the Main Street asks?”
In Asia, vaccine rollouts look likely to be slower. Outbreaks have been waxing and waning as governments seek a balance between pandemic precautions and economic exigency.
The Shanghai Composite index inched less than 0.1% higher, to 3,373.28. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.4% to 26,410.59 and the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo gave up 0.2% to 26,756.24. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 0.3% to 2,746.46.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.7% to 6,683.10 after China’s government has announced extra import taxes on Australian wines, stepping up pressure amid a bitter diplomatic conflict over the coronavirus, territorial disputes and other irritants.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said an investigation found Australia improperly subsidizes wine exports, hurting Chinese producers. It imposed a countervailing tax of 6.3% to 6.4%. China, Australia’s biggest export market, already has effectively blocked imports of Australian wine by imposing taxes of more than 200%. Beijing also has blocked imports of Australian beef, wheat and other goods since Australia’s government expressed support for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
Overnight, the S&P 500 index fell 0.8% to 3,672.82, as losses in technology companies outweighed gains in industrial, energy and materials stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4% to 30,068.81, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 1.9% to 12,338.95.
The Russell 200 index of small company stocks gave up 0.8%, to 1,902.15.
Investors are closely watching for developments on another shot of stimulus for American people, businesses and state governments. Congress is still divided over the size and scope of any new package . The Trump administration’s latest proposal is for $916 billion in support.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 0.92%, just below its level of 0.94% late Wednesday.
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 23 cents to $45.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 8 cents to $45.52 per barrel on Wednesday.
Brent crude, the international standard, added 22 cents to $49.08 per barrel.
The dollar strengthened to 104.55 Japanese yen from 104.24 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.2095 from $1.2083.