The Asian and Pacific Rim markets were edging higher during the morning trade hours on Monday. This comes as trade volume is lighter than usual with the Japanese financial markets, including the benchmark Nikkei 225 being closed for a public holiday.
Asian and regional traders are watching coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine developments closely. There could be a vaccine ready to go by January 2021. This vaccine will start to ship that month from pharmaceutical companies like Moderna and Pfizer. China and Russia also have a vaccine entering the final trial stage.
In South Korea the Kospi composite index led the Asian and Pacific Rim with gains as shares on this benchmark were up over 1.65 percent by late morning. Shares of Samsung Electronics are up over three percent.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index is up a fraction of a percent. On the mainland in China, the headline equity bourses are mixed. The Shanghai composite is up 0.2 percent but the Shenzhen component is down 0.19 percent.
Asian Traders Monitor Economic Data out of Singapore
Looking at economic data, Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP), for the third quarter, contracted by 5.8 percent. This is official data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Economists at the Ministry of Trade and Industry are now expecting the economy of this major regional trade hub to contract between six and 6.5 percent this year. Singapore’s gross domestic product is expected to recover in 2021
Coronavirus Developments Worry Traders
Despite the hope of a vaccine by the first quarter of next year, the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic is weighing on trader sentiment. South Korea, according to the Yonhap news agency, is getting ready to impose strict distance regulations in the greater Seoul area. This will include the southwest region as new coronavirus cases spike higher.
In the United States, things are much worse as the pandemic spirals out of control. The U.S. has reported about 200,000 Covid-19 cases less than a week before that country celebrates the Thanksgiving Day holiday when millions of citizens travel to be with family.