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Tokyo, Hong Kong shares open higher on hopes for new vaccine

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    Agence France-Presse

Tokyo/Hong Kong   /   Tue, November 17, 2020   /   08:56 am
Tokyo, Hong Kong shares open higher on hopes for new vaccine Pedestrians walk past a display showing the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong on Nov. 8, 2017. (Agence France -Presse/Isaac Lawrence)

Tokyo and Hong Kong stocks opened higher Tuesday following overnight global rallies fueled by the announcement of a second promising coronavirus vaccine candidate as major cities face new waves of infections.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.42 percent, or 108.93 points, to 26,015.86 in early trade, while the broader Topix index gained 0.22 percent, or 3.89 points, to 1,735.70.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.51 percent, or 133.42 points, to 26,515.09.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was flat, inching up 0.18 points to 3,347.15, while the Shenzhen Composite Index on China's second exchange dipped 0.05 percent, or 1.21 points, to 2,288.61.

The dollar stood at 104.42 yen, edging down from 104.56 yen in New York Monday.

Market sentiment perked up after United States biotech firm Moderna announced its experimental vaccine against COVID-19 was almost 95 percent effective, marking a second major breakthrough in the quest to end the pandemic following a similar announcement by Pfizer last week.

The news brightened investor spirits across the world, putting the Nikkei index around its highest point in nearly three decades.

Wall Street shares rallied overnight, with the Dow ending at a record high.

"Tokyo shares are expected to test higher price levels once again on the back of global rallies including in the US and Europe," Okasan Online Securities said in a note.

Technical charts continue to show the strength of the market.

But some signs of possible overheating have also been seen following recent rallies, Okasan added.

"In the short run, it is conceivable that we could see an adjustment at anytime," the brokerage added.

Among major shares, Japan's leading drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical rose 0.98 percent to 3,600 yen. The company has agreed to distribute 50 million doses of the Moderna vaccine in Japan, if it is successful and approved.

Heavily-weighted Fast Retailing, which operates Uniqlo, added 1.19 percent to 86,990 yen. 

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group surged 2.34 percent to 471.9 yen.

Nissan Motor rose 1.19 percent to 474.6 yen, following a Monday media report that said the firm was reviewing its relationship with partner Mitsubishi Motors. Nissan and Mitsubishi denied the report.

Sony fell 0.93 percent to 9,403 yen. Toyota dropped 0.70 percent to 7,422 yen.

Japan Airlines rose 3.10 percent to 1,998 yen, while rival ANA Holdings jumped 3.99 percent to 2,647 yen, after a report that Japan's government could cut taxes on jet fuel to help bolster the battered aviation sector.