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  • Asian shares step back from record tops as optimism led by US aid package chatter fades.
  • US eyes further sanctions on China, inches closer to Taiwan.
  • Data from Australia, Beijing fail to entertain traders amid off in Japan.
  • Virus infections jump, variants spread but vaccinations are also rising.

Markets in Asia-Pacific change their tune from upbeat to sluggish on Monday. While the absence of Japanese traders can be probed for the latest pullback in trading sentiment, the fears of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and a full-fledged US-China tension could also be cited as additional catalysts. It should also be noted that chatters concerning the impeachment of US President Donald Trump dim the optimism surrounding the US fiscal stimulus hopes. Against this backdrop, MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan prints 0.23% intraday gains by press time.

Talking about data, Australia’s Retail Sales fared better than the 7.0% initial forecast to 7.1% in November while China’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) crossed upbeat forecasts with a 0.2% YoY figure. Even so, stocks in Australia and China are both mildly offered as the Sino-American tussles escalate.

Following the Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese stocks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are up for cutting their investments in Hong Kong, per Reuters. Also on the same line is the news item from Reuters suggesting further sanctions on Beijing-backed companies. Furthermore, America’s recently improving relations with Taiwan may also poke policymakers from the dragon nation and could further fuel the risk-off mood.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 becomes the region’s biggest loser with over 2.5% intraday losses by the time of press. The reason could be traced from the Stats NZ’s details of November’s ‘job indications’ that marked -0.3% figures.

Elsewhere, South Korea follows the kinds of Aussie, kiwi and China but Indonesia cheers vaccinations with 1.30% gains. Also positive is India’s BSE Sensex, up 0.70% to 49,190.

Looking forward, global market players will keep their eyes on the US fiscal relief headlines after the Democratic victory in the 2020 elections. However, Trump’s impeachment, virus worries and US-China tension can offer intermediate jitters.