SHANGHAI, RAW – Asian stocks have risen to record highs, tracking US markets as investors hoped for more economic stimulus from newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden to offset damage wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans in the US Congress have indicated they are willing to work with the new president on his administration’s top priority, a $US1.9 trillion US fiscal stimulus plan, but some are opposed to the plan’s price tag. Democrats took control of the US Senate on Wednesday but will still need Republican support to pass the program.

But after record high closes on Wall Street overnight, markets in Asia on Thursday reflected relief over an orderly transition of power and strong expectations that US stimulus will provide continued support for global assets.

Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, said Democratic control of the Senate “increases not just the probability of more fiscal (stimulus) but the magnitude”.

“That means that this market should be way, way, way higher as a whole and we’re going to get there. We’re entering this regime of even more accelerated asset class inflation,” he said.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan touched record highs and was last up 0.85 per cent, with markets across the region posting gains.

Chinese blue-chips added 1.2 per cent, Australian shares climbed 0.69 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng breached the 30,000 level, rising 0.31 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.72 per cent, less than one per cent off three-decade highs reached last week.

The rises in Asia followed fresh record highs on Wall Street overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.83 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 1.39 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.97 per cent. On Thursday, e-mini futures for the S&P 500 ticked up to new records, and were last up 0.26 per cent.

Tech shares stood out after Netflix Inc said it would no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its TV shows and movies, prompting its shares to surge nearly 17 per cent.

Along with Netflix, the rest of the FAANG group, scheduled to report results in the coming weeks, jumped. Google parent Alphabet Inc rose 5.36 per cent.

As equity gauges rose, US stimulus hopes weighed on the greenback, pushing the dollar index down 0.1 per cent to 90.319.

The dollar was flat against the yen at 103.52 and the euro gained 0.2 per cent on the day to $US1.2124.

Benchmark US 10-year Treasury notes yielded 1.0836 per cent, down slightly from a US close of 1.09 per cent on Wednesday.

In commodity markets, oil prices eased on an unexpected rise in US crude stocks. US West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 0.56 per cent to $US53.01 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.4 per cent to $US55.85 per barrel.

Spot gold was flat at $US1,871 per ounce.