Asia markets to open lower on pandemic worries, shrugging off US equities upswing

Asia shares were set to open lower on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments regarding the country’s surge in novel coronavirus cases outweighed a slight rally on Wall Street.

FILE PHOTO: A security guard wearing a face mask walks past the Bund Financial Bull statue, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on The Bund in Shanghai, China March 18, 2020.

NEW YORK: Asia shares were set to open lower on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments regarding the country’s surge in novel coronavirus cases outweighed a slight rally on Wall Street.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures lost 1.06per cent in early trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures added 0.24per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures lost 0.34per cent.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.13per cent.

Speaking at his first White House briefing focused on the pandemic in months, Trump said the virus will probably get worse before it gets better. Cases have been rising across the United States, with now nearly 141,000 deaths recorded from the disease. Also weighing on markets were comments made earlier in the day by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States wants to build a global coalition to counter China, which he accused of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to further its own interests.

“Markets focused on the positives overnight,” Hayden Dimes of ANZ Research wrote on Wednesday. “However, the main near-term question for the U.S. economy is … what damage has been done in July, as COVID-19 cases have surged.”

U.S. equity markets had been higher for most of the session on Tuesday, as investors cheered the European Union’s creation of a 750-billion-euro recovery fund and U.S. regulators continued hammering out a new stimulus agreement.

U.S. Republicans and Democrats remained far apart, however, on how much to spend on coronavirus relief, as Democrats called Republicans’ US$1-trillion-proposal insufficient.

The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 index turned positive for the year, hitting its highest level since Feb. 21.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 159.53 points, or 0.6per cent, to 26,840.4, the S&P 500 gained 5.46 points, or 0.17per cent, to 3,257.3 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 86.73 points, or 0.81per cent, to 10,680.36.

Gold soared to a nine-year peak on Tuesday, boosted by a dollar sell-off. Spot gold rose 1.5per cent to US$1,842.52 per ounce, its highest since September 2011. U.S. gold futures settled up 1.5per cent at US$1,843.9.

The U.S. dollar , viewed as safe-haven rival to bullion, hit more than a four-month low.

The Australian dollar rose 0.01per cent versus the greenback at US$0.713.

Oil prices also hit their highest level in more than four months, although prices pared gains in post-settlement trade on news that U.S. crude inventories grew last week by more than expected.

Z24 News

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