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Five Things - Asia

Oil markets on edge. Hong Kong battles a new wave of virus cases. Asia's 20 richest families control $463 billion.

Oil Talks Snag

A panel of OPEC+ ministers couldn't reach an agreement on whether to delay January's oil-output increase, leaving the matter unresolved before a full meeting of the cartel and its allies on Monday. Most participants in an informal online discussion on Sunday evening supported maintaining the production curbs at current levels into the first quarter, said a delegate. Yet while Russia spoke in favor of postponing the supply hike that's currently scheduled to happen in the new year, the United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan were opposed. Unless the agreement is revised this week, they will restart about 1.9 million barrels a day of halted output, potentially pushing the global market back into surplus and undermining the recent surge in crude prices.

Market Open

Stocks in Asia are poised for gains as investors monitored progress on the path to a coronavirus vaccine on the final day of a record month for global equities. Oil is in focus. Stock futures traded higher late Friday in Japan and Hong Kong. On Sunday, the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the federal government hopes to quickly review and approve requests from two big drugs makers for emergency approval of their Covid-19 vaccines. The pound ticked higher in early trading as Brexit talks continue. 

Erratic Covid Rules

As Hong Kong battles a new wave of coronavirus infections with yet another round of social restrictions, a sense of fatigue with the confusing and inconsistent nature of the city's pandemic response is setting in among business owners and residents. Though the Asian financial center has thus far been relatively unscathed, the city has encountered more waves than most other places and is entering its fourth round of stop-start restrictions. Here are the latest updates on the virus

Bankers for the Rich

JPMorgan plans to double the number of private bankers serving Chinese clients from Singapore over the next two years, signaling its ambition to tap growth from Asia's second-largest wealth market. The U.S. bank currently has more than a dozen relationship managers serving Chinese customers, said James Wey, the new head of Southeast Asia private banking. JPMorgan, ranked seventh among private banks in Asia excluding onshore China. Singapore is popular among the world's rich to park funds, buy property and set up family offices

Vaccine Workhorses

Airlines are facing the "mission of the century": distributing Covid vaccines. Lufthansa, one of the world's biggest cargo carriers, is preparing its depleted fleet for the gargantuan task of airlifting millions of doses. The airline began planning in April in anticipation of the shots that companies including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are developing in record time. Laid low by a Covid-19 outbreak that's decimated passenger demand, airlines will be the workhorses of the attempt to eradicate it, hauling billions of vials to every corner of the globe. 

What We've Been Reading

This is what's caught our eye over the past 24 hours:

And finally, here's what Adam's interested in today

We are now one month into the Reserve Bank of Australia's program of quantitative easing, a move that's helped narrow the gap in the country's bond yields with Treasuries. While economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the central bank to keep policy on hold at tomorrow's meeting, some observers still see the chance for tweaks to QE in the not-too-distant future.

Janus Henderson's Frank Uhlenbruch says further easing, if needed, would likely mean an increase in the amount or duration of the central bank's bond-buying. He expects the economy to finish the year with increasing momentum and then rebound by about 5% over 2021.

For a stock market that is up 45% from March lows, that looks well-priced by corporate investors. Valuations, using the estimated price-earnings ratio of 22, look very elevated. The big test for equity investors will come in 2021 if the RBA shows signs it's thinking about taking its foot off the gas.

Adam Haigh covers global markets for Bloomberg News in Sydney.


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