Asian shares mixed following Biden speech, Wall St retreat

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A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), right, and the foreign exchange rates at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Asian shares were mixed on Friday after a late slide in several Big Tech stocks left major indexes lower on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Asian shares were mixed on Friday after a late slide in several Big Tech stocks left major indexes lower on Wall Street.

U.S. futures were trading slightly lower after President-elect Joe Biden announced his plans to propose a $1.9 billion package to help along a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Biden spoke about the plan after Thursday’s market close.

Biden's coronavirus plan would include $1,400 checks for individuals, on top of $600 provided in the last COVID-19 bill. The plan would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September. It also provides funds for a mass vaccination campaign and a major expansion of local public health efforts.

Markets have been mostly charging higher recently amid growing optimism that the rollout of coronavirus vaccines will set the stage for a big rebound for the economy and corporate profits later this year. Expectations are also rising for another round of stimulus coming for the economy because Democrats are set to soon have control of Congress and the White House.

Investors are hoping that more government stimulus can tide the economy over until COVID-19 vaccines get daily life back toward normal and trigger a powerful recovery later this year.

But the hopes are tempered by the reality that Biden may struggle to win support for massive spending, even from some Democrats, analysts say.

“To some extent, most of this optimism had been priced in, but the huge figures had also invited some contemplation as to whether the necessary bipartisan support will materialize for this huge sum," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. “The market appears to be playing it safe," she said.

Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2% to 28,639.05 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.4% to 28,610.09. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 also added 0.4% to 6,731.50. South Korea's Kospi skidded 1.2% to 3,112.45 while the Shanghai Composite index shed 0.2% to 3,560.64.