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James Hyerczyk
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Asia-Pacific Shares

The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes finished higher on Wednesday, but shares in China took a hit with the benchmark Shanghai Index dropping more than 1%. Bullish traders were mostly influenced by the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the U.K., while sellers in China reacted to weak consumer inflation data and rising Sino-U.S. tensions.

In the cash market on Wednesday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 26817.94, up 350.86 or +1.33%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2755.47, up 54.54 or +2.02 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 26484.59, up 180.03 or +0.68%.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 3371.96, down 38.21 or -1.12% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 finished at 6728.50, up 40.80 or +0.61%.

UK Administers First COVID-19 Vaccines, Massive Rollout Begins

The U.K. rolled out the first coronavirus vaccines to the public on Tuesday, making it the first country to inoculate people with a treatment that went through full testing.

On the eve of the vaccine being rolled out, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was a “huge step forward” in the fight against the pandemic. It will be the country’s biggest vaccination drive ever.

Johnson’s sentiment was echoed by NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens, who said on Monday that it was a “decisive turning point in the battle against coronavirus.”

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China’s Consumer Prices Drop for the First Time Since 2009

China’s consumer price index fell in November for the first time in about a decade as food prices dropped.

The consumer price index, a measure of inflation that tracks prices for a basket of consumer goods and services, fell 0.5% in November from a year ago, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday.

The decline marked the first drop since October 2009, according to the Wind Information database.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.5% in November from a year ago. The producer price index (PPI), which measures prices of goods and services from the perspective sellers, fell 1.5% in November from a year ago. That was 0.6 percentage points less of a decline versus October’s figure, the statistics bureau said.

Economists did not expect major changes in monetary policy from the People’s Bank of China as a result of the drop in CPI. With the PPI narrowing, China’s central bank may look past the overall drop in consumer prices and focus on reducing some stimulus.

Nikkei Ends at Near 30-Year High on Recovery Hopes, Upbeat Machinery Data

Japanese shares closed at a near 30-year high on Wednesday, as Britain’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and seeming progress over a U.S. stimulus deal boosted hopes of a swift global economic recovery, while upbeat domestic machinery data also buoyed sentiment.

SoftBank Group Corp shares did most of the uplifting in the afternoon trade, jumping as much as 7% on a Bloomberg News report that the conglomerate was considering buying back shares to boost Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son’s stake.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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