GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares hover near record high, risk currencies in favor

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares hover near record high, risk currencies in favor
Credit: © Reuters.

NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Asian shares are set to end a tumultuous 2020 by hovering near record highs on Thursday while riskier currencies cruised near 2-1/2-year peaks, buoyed by hopes that COVID-19 vaccine rollouts will help the world beat the pandemic.

The upbeat mood, reflected in overnight gains on Wall Street, drubbed the "safe-haven" dollar and drove currencies such as the euro, sterling, the Australian dollar and the New Zealand dollar overnight to highs not seen in more than 2-1/2 years.

E-Mini S&P futures ESc1 rose 0.11% to 3,728.5, while MSCI's gauge of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was little changed at 661.76, a hair's breath from its record high of 661.80.

For the year, the MSCI index is up nearly 20%, outpacing a 15.5% gain in the U.S. S&P 500 .SPX . .N

Australian shares .AXJO lost 0.23% while the Japanese stock market is shut on Thursday.

Investors looking forward to a brighter 2021 will be eyeing China's official manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index for December, due on Thursday at 0100 GMT.

Analysts expect the index to show China's factory sector growing at a solid pace in December as the world's second-largest economy steadily rebounds from the coronavirus crisis. some analysts warned that this year's heady gains in global stock markets could mean a lot less room for further appreciation in 2021.

"We'd say 80% of all the baseline good news expected in 2021 is already incorporated," analysts at DataTrek Research said in a note, adding that some "real surprises" would be needed next year for the U.S. stock market to rise another 10%.

For now, however, healthy risk appetites kept investors from the U.S. dollar.

The struggling dollar dropped 0.46% to 89.59 against a basket of currencies =USD , plumbing a low not seen since April 2018.

A listless dollar helped the euro EUR=EBS stand firm at a 32-month high of $1.2298. Sterling GBP=D3 was also steady $1.3611, a level last seen in May 2018. The Australian dollar AUD=D3 and New Zealand dollar NZD=D3 also held their ground at their respective 32-month highs of $0.7665 and $0.7215.

A battered dollar also supported gold XAU= , with bullion prices up a touch at $1,894.225 an ounce. GOL/

Oil prices bucked the trend, however, retreating a shade as swelling year-over-year supply led some traders to view any economic recovery ahead to be gradual rather than swift.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 shed 0.02% to trade at $48.39, far below about $62 at the start of 2020. O/R

Treasuries were little changed, with benchmark U.S. 10-year yields 10YT=RR at 0.9264% and two-year yields US2YT=RR at 0.1250%.

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