* AstraZeneca vaccine news drives risk-on approach
* Vaccine could be released by mid-December
* Trump, government officials nod to formal Biden transition
* For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock
click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.
WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Asian stocks opened higher on
Tuesday as COVID-19 vaccine progress shored up global sentiment
and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden was given the go-ahead to
begin his White House transition.
U.S. General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy
wrote in a letter to Biden on Monday that he can formally begin
the hand-over process.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he had told his team "do
what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols," an
indication he was moving toward a transition after weeks of
legal challenges to the election results.
That helped futures for the S&P 500 up 0.52% in
early Asian trade while Japan's Nikkei was 1.8% higher
and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 1.11% stronger.
Those gains followed an upbeat Wall Street session that was
driven by positive vaccine news.
AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine, cheaper to
make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than its
rivals, could be as much as 90%
U.S. stocks got an extra boost after reports that Biden
plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, to
become the next Treasury Secretary.
"Traders are still buying into vaccine news clearance, as
the end of the pandemic becomes imaginable. Recent U.S. data
restored a bit of confidence that the economy is holding up,
despite surging COVID-19 infections and a painful lack of fresh
fiscal stimulus," said Kyle Rodda, a market analyst for IG
"And the news of Yellen's possible nomination to the role of
U.S. Treasury Secretary potentially puts a very Fed-friendly
uber-dove at the reins of fiscal policy."
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
The U.S. dollar index touched its lowest since Sept. 1
before edging 0.214% higher with the euro unchanged at
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose
1.12%, the S&P 500 gained or 0.56% while the Nasdaq
Composite added only 0.22%, underperforming as traders
rotated away from big tech names.
Some analysts expect big, short-term risks ahead the U.S.
Thanksgiving holiday, although others say unexpected news events
at the start of the shorter trading week helped investors focus
on the growing positives for financial markets.
Oil prices added to last week's gains as traders anticipated
the vaccine news would spur a recovery in energy demand.
"Investors are ignoring near-term headwinds, chief among
which are surging global COVID infections, and instead looking
ahead to next summer," said PVM analyst Stephen Brennock.
The United States surpassed 255,000 deaths and 12 million
infections since the pandemic began, with daily infections at a
record near 170,000 and daily deaths around 1,500.
U.S. crude recently fell 0.26% to $42.95 per barrel
and Brent was at $45.83, up 1.94% on the day.
An index of commodity prices touched its highest
since early March.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year notes rose
slightly to 0.8701%.
Spot gold was little changed at $1,835.21 an ounce.
U.S. gold futures fell 0.46% to $1,829.30 an ounce.
(Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Sam Holmes)