Stocks kick off 2021 with continued ascent

The first full trading day of the year saw world stock markets hit record highs on Monday (January 4).

Investors hoped the rollout of vaccines would ultimately lift a global economy that's been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

European shares rallied, as the Brexit trade deal and coronavirus vaccination campaigns raised expectations of a strong rebound.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 index gained around a percent.

with economically sensitive mining and travel & leisure stocks jumping more than 3%.

Germany-listed shares in the world's biggest holiday company TUI rose 8.3% after its chief executive told a newspaper that he expects "a largely normal summer" this year.

Asian stock markets also gained, although Japan's Nikkei shed early gains.

That was after its Prime Minister confirmed the government was considering a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding areas as the virus spreads.

Investors are still sounding caution over the path of the pandemic.

"The virus retains the upper hand for a while longer," one analyst told Reuters.

Britain began vaccinating its population with the shot developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Monday.

But with the lag between a full vaccine rollout and a global economic recovery, investors are expected to count on central banks to keep money cheap.