Markets may continue to rise on global support; Pfizer, SBI in focus

The markets are likely to rise on Monday tracking strong cues from global peers, while trends in SGX Nifty indicate a flat opening for Indian benchmark share indices. On Friday, the Sensex ended over 45000-mark for first time at 45,079.55, up 446.90 points or 1.00%. The Nifty was at 13,258.55, up 124.65 points or 0.95%.

A gauge of Asian shares hit a record peak on Monday on hopes of a much-needed US stimulus package before year-end just as coronavirus vaccines roll out, while oil prices hovered near their highest since March.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2% to 643.1 points, on track for its fifth straight session of gains. It is up 16.3% so far this year, the best since a 33% jump in 2017.

Japan’s Nikkei added 0.1% while Australian shares climbed 0.8%.

Britain is preparing to become the first country to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine this week. US authorities will also this week discuss the programme before the expected first round of vaccinations this month.

Hopes the vaccines will help curb the pandemic which has so far killed more than 1.5 million people globally sent shares soaring in recent weeks.

On Wall Street, stock indexes reached fresh all-time highs on Friday with the Dow rising 0.8%, the S&P 500 gaining 0.9% and the Nasdaq adding 0.7%.

However, a resurgence of the virus in many developed countries, including the United States remains a threat.

Pfizer India has become the first pharmaceutical firm to seek from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) an emergency use authorisation for its Covid-19 vaccine in the country. This is the first such request received by the DGCI amid the race to find a vaccine for the deadly virus, which has affected over 96 lakh people in India.

Walmart Inc. has hired Goldman Sachs to explore an initial share sale of its Flipkart unit in the US to raise around $10 billion, according to a Mint report. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart is planning to sell around 25% in India’s largest online retailer.

State Bank of India (SBI) has recast loans of just around 4,000 retail borrowers so far under the limited window of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), indicating that barring micro, small and medium businesses, not many are availing of easier repayment norms.

Growth in pharmaceutical sales slowed down to 1% in November at Rs12,834 crore, as acute therapies resumed their struggle after a brief sign of recovery, data from market research firm AIOCD-AWACS showed. In October, medicine sales in India stood at 13,542, up nearly 10% year-on-year.

In currencies, investor focus is on a last-ditch attempt by Britain and the European Union to strike a post-Brexit trade deal this week, with probably just days left for negotiators to avert a chaotic parting of ways at the end of the year.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are due to hold a call on Monday in the hope that, by then, stubborn differences over fishing rights in UK waters, fair competition and ways to solve future disputes will have narrowed.

If there is no deal, a five-year Brexit divorce will end messily just as Britain and its former EU partners grapple with the severe economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pound was down 0.2% at $1.3412 while the single currency was flat at $1.2122, not too far from an April 2018 high of $1.2177.

The risk sensitive Australian dollar was mildly positive at $0.7430. That left the U.S. dollar little changed at 90.808 against a basket of major currencies, after hitting a 2-1/2 year low last week.

In commodities, oil prices hovered near their highest since March on Friday amid expectations of a US economic stimulus package and the possibility of a vaccine.

US crude was off 13 cents at $46.13 per barrel and Brent was down at $49.10. Brent has lost about a quarter of its value this year so far.

Spot gold, which hit a record high of $2,072.49 an ounce, was last at $1,837.9, still up a hefty 21% this year.

(Reuters contributed to the story)

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