Asian markets set to track U.S. gains on vaccine, EU deal hopes

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian shares were set to open higher on Tuesday after U.S. markets gained ground on positive data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines and hopes that the European Union would finalize a recovery fund.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures YAPcm1 rose 0.70% in early trade while Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures NKc1 were up 0.02%, or 0.47% higher than the Nikkei’s close on Monday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures .HSI HSIc1 rose 0.92%. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 EScv1 slipped 0.08%.

Early data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines released on Monday, including a closely-watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognize and fight the novel coronavirus without serious side effects.

European Union leaders appeared to near an agreement on Monday on a 750-billion-euro stimulus plan for regional economies hard-hit by the pandemic.

Also supporting sentiment were hopes for another round of U.S. economic stimulus after congressional Republicans announced plans to seek another $1 trillion in coronavirus economic relief.

“Global equities kicked off the trading week on a positive note as vaccine hopes supported optimism,” Felicity Emmett of ANZ Research wrote. “U.S. politicians will begin discussing the next tranche of stimulus this week, and that’s going to be a key focal point for markets too.”

The day’s news helped push the euro to its highest level in more than four months against the U.S. dollar, while the Nasdaq reached a new high – its seventh record in July.

The euro EUR= was up 0.16%, at $1.1444, while the yen JPY= gained 0.27%, to $107.2800.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.03%, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.84% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC jumped 2.51%.

Tech stocks Inc (AMZN.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) provided the biggest boosts to the Nasdaq and the S&P500.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets .MIWD00000PUS rose 0.85%.

However, worries about the pandemic’s economic and human toll pushed gold prices to their highest level since September 2011 on Monday. U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled up 0.4% to $1,817.40 per ounce.

More than 14.58 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 605,782​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Oil prices were little changed on Monday. Brent crude LCOc1 settled up 14 cents, or 0.3%, at $43.28 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 rose 22 cents, 0.5%, to $40.81.

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