Global stocks moved higher on Wednesday on hopes for a recovery in 2021 from the coronavirus pandemic.
MSCIâ€™s gauge of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, rose 1.4 per cent, building on record-breaking gains since November to reach an all-time high. Chinaâ€™s CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed shares rose more than 1 per cent to its highest point since 2015 as the EU and China prepared to announce a long-awaited investment treaty. Hong Kongâ€™s Hang Seng and Koreaâ€™s Kospi also climbed 2 per cent.
In Europe, the benchmark Stoxx 600 index also rose 0.1 per cent in early dealings while Londonâ€™s FTSE 100 gained 0.2 per cent after closing up 1.6 per cent in the previous session. Germanyâ€™s Dax continued to hover around the record highs struck earlier this week.
Sterling was up 0.3 per cent against the dollar to close to its high of the year, at $1.3545, on the day UK MPs are set to approve the EU trade deal finalised on Christmas Eve.
US futures indicated that the benchmark S&P 500 index of blue-chip stocks was set to open higher later in the day.
The US House of Representatives on Monday voted to increase direct stimulus cheques to Americans from $600 to $2,000, putting pressure on the Republican-controlled Senate to beef up this monthâ€™s $900bn economic relief package.
The S&P hit a new all-time high following the vote, but closed lower on Tuesday after the Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked Democratâ€™s attempts to swiftly implement the payments.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries, which moves inversely to price, ticked up 0.02 percentage points to 0.95 per cent ahead of the bumper sale of long-term government bonds next year.
Meanwhile, the UK government confirmed on Wednesday morning that the countryâ€™s medicines regulator had approved the Covid-19 vaccine made by Oxford university and AstraZeneca. The news came shortly after a British woman became the first ever person to receive the second dose of the vaccine made by BioNTech and Pfizer.
The price of oil rose, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, up 0.6 per cent at $51.41 a barrel.