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Five risks that could trip the bulls in 2021

At a moment of extreme dislocation and economic uncertainty in North Asia, investors seem to agree on one thing: the bull markets of 2020 are far from over.

Or might this be wishful thinking?

This conventional wisdom stems from three dynamics widely seen as driving asset prices to even higher highs: the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines; solid post-pandemic recoveries; and central banks leaving the liquidity spigots open indefinitely.

These rationales remain in the driver’s seat. In Seoul, for example, the Kospi index continued running upward. The benchmark ended 2020 at record highs, up nearly 31%. It was the biggest annual gain since 2009.

The rally matters because South Korea straddles both the emerging and developed market worlds. On the one hand, the market’s surge reflects the same optimism driving up Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average and hopes for robust Chinese growth. On the other, it speaks to how Asia’s developing-economy bourses are having quite a moment more broadly.

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