Airlines take off but glovemakers blow out on vaccine news

Singapore (AFP) –


Airlines have taken off in Asia and casino operators are enjoying a massive winning streak as news of a vaccine breakthrough fuelled hopes Tuesday that the world can finally begin returning to normal.

Japan Airlines soared by a fifth, gaming giant Wynn Macau rallied 10 percent and the owner of Singapore's Universal Studios piled on seven percent with traders betting on a recovery in the shattered tourism sector.

But it wasn't all sunshine and light on trading floors as surgical glovemakers, tech giants and others that have benefited from the Covid-19 impact this year were tossed away.

Global markets have soared after US giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced Monday that a Phase 3 trial showed their vaccine candidate was 90 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infections.

Investors have been rushing back into embattled companies that have been ravaged by lockdowns imposed around the world to contain the disease, which has killed more than 1.2 million people.

"Bombed-out sectors such as aviation, travel, leisure, big oil and yes, our beloved banks, time-warped back to 2019 with giant rallies," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst from OANDA.

Airlines, suffering their worst-ever crisis, led the way, with Japan Airlines cruising up 20 percent, Singapore Airlines flying 14 percent and Cathay Pacific rocketing more than 11 percent on hopes people will be able to get back in the air.

Bets on a rebound in the gambling sector ramped up as Hong Kong-listed Macau casino operators piled on the cash -- as well as Wynn's rally, Sands China put on nearly seven percent and Galaxy Entertainment surged five percent.

Genting Singapore, which operates a casino and a Universal Studios theme park in the city-state, chalked up more than seven percent.

Expectations that demand will pick up as people travel more pushed energy firms higher, with Hong Kong-listed CNOOC up more than 12 percent and Papua New Guinea-focused Oil Search putting on 16 percent in Sydney.

Property developers were also winners with Singapore-traded CapitaLand putting on about four percent while Hong Kong's New World Development moved up more than five percent.

However, there were also big losers -- firms that have enjoyed large gains for most of the year thanks to the surge in demand for medical equipment to treat the virus and technology from people stuck at home in lockdowns.

Malaysia's Top Glove, the world's biggest maker of surgical gloves, fell more than eight percent in Kuala Lumpur -- though that was a small bite out of the more than 400 percent rise it has enjoyed since the start of the year.

Another glove manufacturer, Supermax, cratered more than eight percent in Malaysia, having racked up gains of more than 1,100 percent in the past 10 months.

Meanwhile, gaming giants were deep in the red, just as the sector prepares for the holiday season and the next era of computer consoles with Microsoft putting its new Xbox on sale.

Sony, which puts its PlayStation 5 on shelves Thursday, shed three percent in Tokyo while rival Nintendo dropped more than two percent.

Nintendo has climbed around 25 percent this year while Sony was up about 20 percent.

And China's Tencent, one of the world's largest computer game makers, slipped more than three percent in Hong Kong -- a fraction of the 60 percent gain it has enjoyed in 2020.

OANDA's Halley said more positive news on vaccines may come in the following weeks, but also sounded a note of caution.

"Of course, this won't magically reset the clock to November 2019," he said. "The logistical challenges in production and distribution are immense."