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Asian stocks mixed over US unrest, vaccine and stimulus

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AFP – Asian markets fluctuated yesterday as hopes for the rollout of Coronavirus vaccines and a new stimulus out of Washington DC competed with fears over surging infections, new lockdowns and brewing political and social unrest in the United States.

While analysts’ long-term outlook remained positive as more people are inoculated and life returns to normal, frighteningly high new case numbers and deaths around the world – and the resulting lockdowns – kept a cap on buying.

Germany’s BioNTech provided some good news because it said it expected to produce 2 billion doses of its vaccine this year, up from the previous forecast of 1.3 billion, lifting hopes that more people could get the jab earlier.

That came as seven mass vaccination sites were opened across England, where a new strain of the disease is putting huge pressure on the country’s National Health Service and forced leaders to ramp up economically painful containment measures.

The main focus of attention for traders is Washington, where Democrats are pushing ahead with a historic second impeachment of Donald Trump as they accuse him of inciting last Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol Building that delayed lawmakers’ certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

The chances of Trump being convicted are considered slim but there was a concern the latest moves could foment more unrest.

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