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Asian stocks dip as virus surges

Lawrence Delevingne
·2-min read

Stocks in Asia are poised to pull back after markets in the United States and Europe sold off on concerns over rising coronavirus infections.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 shares dipped 0.12 per cent early. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures lost 0.16 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei 225 futures added just 0.22 per cent.

"Sentiment sagged overnight, amid rising COVID cases, warnings from Fed Chair Powell and further setbacks in US stimulus talks," Westpac strategists for New Zealand and Australia wrote in a note Friday.

New US COVID-19 infections hit fresh records and were above 100,000 for an eighth consecutive day.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday during a discussion with other central bankers progress in developing a coronavirus vaccine was welcome news but near-term economic risks remain as infections accelerate, underscoring likely need for additional government stimulus.

On Thursday, top Democrats in the US Congress urged renewed negotiations over a multitrillion-dollar virus aid proposal but top Republicans immediately rejected their approach as too expensive, continuing a months-long impasse.

Wall Street dropped in a broad sell-off.

The blue-chip Dow was pulled down by industrial and financial companies sensitive to economic growth, with Boeing Co and Goldman Sachs down 3 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 317.46 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 29,080.17 and the S&P 500 lost 35.65 points, or 1.00 per cent, to 3,537.01.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite fared slightly better, dropping 76.84 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 11,709.59.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.88 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.62 per cent.

US Treasury yields also sank on Thursday, weighed down by the persistent rise in coronavirus cases and data showing inflation remains benign in the world's largest economy.

The US yield curve, viewed in part as a gauge of risk appetite, also flattened.

The US dollar held steady on Thursday with investors cautious over expectations about a COVID vaccine.

The Australian dollar was flat versus the greenback at $0.723 and the Japanese yen strengthened 0.02 per cent versus the greenback at 105.11 per dollar.

Oil prices fell on virus-linked economic fears and an unexpected rise in US crude stockpiles. US crude recently fell 0.71 per cent to $US40.83 per barrel and Brent was at $US43.27, down 1.21 per cent on the day.

Spot gold was flat at around $1,875 an ounce.