Asian shares have slightly risen after Monday's dip, after the announcement of an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 epidemic.
Most of the region's share prices had fallen as apprehensive investors observed the European leader’s summit on the pandemic. With rising cases in the US and the threats of second waves of lockdowns, the Hang Seng Index (HSI) inched up a low one percent while Japan's Nikkei 225 fell by 0.2 percent.
Fortunately, after four nights of intense talks, the EU leaders have agreed on a massive post-COVID-19 recovery package worth $859 billion in loans and grants. The 27 member bloc's borrowing has now become the largest amount collectively borrowed by the European nations.
The summit that left many a leader's tempers frayed is also the longest ever held since 2000. The “frugal four” EU members had opposed the monetary grants vehemently. France however backed the grants alongside her peers.
A New Normal Era in Asian Bourses
The pleasant news shared by Oxford University scientists that their trial vaccine has prompted a positive protective immune response from recipients of the early trial has done the markets a load of good. Consequently, the Hang Seng Index closed on a 0.47 percent gain at the end of the week.
Most Asian economies are adapting to their 'new normal' as they reopen their economies and observe social distancing measures. Restaurants and shops are receiving more shoppers and takeout orders from masked customers.
Unfortunately, cases of the virus have recently shot up in Tokyo and the Philippines, hitting triple-digit numbers for new confirmed day cases. Fortunately, Japan seems to have the pandemic in check and has so far avoided large numbers of deaths and cases as has been in the USA, Brazil, parts of Europe, and India.
The Philippines has just recently come out of a long and strict lockdown that started in March. The worrying trend and spike in fresh cases are forcing some sectors back to lockdown status as the government increases surveillance and isolation of cases to cut back on community transmissions.
Bureau of the Treasury’s Bonds.PH app
The Southeast Asia country's stock exchange shut down its services in mid-March because of what they termed as "enhanced community quarantine implementation".
The move by the archipelagic country was the first response of its kind in dealing with the pandemic. In March, President Duterte Rodrigo imposed a total lockdown on Luzon Island, the region that holds the country's capital, Manilla.
The Philippine Stock Exchange's (PSE) trading floor reopened on June 1 after close to 9 weeks of offsite or floorless trading. The PSE's CEO and President Ramon Monzon said that the reopening of the floor of the bourse would send a powerful message to investors that the nations' capital markets were back to normal. The bourse has had to work with shortened trading hours and under stringent health checks on traders as the country makes its way back to economic recovery.
To further aid the country's economic recovery process, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTR) in association with the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange and the Union Bank of the Philippines has launched a government bonds distribution app.
The app, powered by distributed ledger technology, is the first of its kind in the Asian region. Rosalia V. De Leon, the Philippines National Treasurer says that the app, known as Bonds.PH will help Filipinos from all walks of life to make easy and affordable purchases of the treasury's novel retail bond, the RTB-24.
The Bonds.PH app is designed especially for the unbanked and will help raise funds for the country's COVID-19 response. The bond-buying app purchases the government's 5-year bonds easy and it runs 24/7. Filipinos can fund their Bonds.PH accounts via PayMaya, an online payment provider. They can also load up their accounts at the UnionBank or via the GCash and InstaPay's online platforms.
The RTB-24 can be purchased with funds as low as PHP 5,000.00 on the Bonds.PH app, the first retail Treasury bond on the blockchain. Speaking of the development during the app’s official launch, UnionBank's president Edwin R. Bautista said
The Philippines is ready to lead the way into the future and tech up the nation with innovative, inclusive opportunities, powered by emerging technologies, for the benefit of all Filipinos.