coronavirus fears, U.S. jobless claims, currencies and oil

SINGAPORE — Stocks across Asia-Pacific were set to open mixed in early trade on Friday, with dampened sentiment on the coronavirus front.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar strengthened as uncertainty rose as the greenback is a safe haven currency

Futures indicated Japan’s Nikkei 225 looked set for a higher open as compared to its previous close. The country’s national consumer price index is set to be released on Friday morning.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was slightly down in early trading.

On the earnings front, chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing on Thursday reported a 35.9% surge in quarterly net profit, with demand boosted by products requiring high-end chips, and ahead of Apple’s new iPhone sales.

Stateside, stocks fell for a third day in a row on Thursday as hope for a U.S. coronavirus stimulus deal fades, while infections across Europe surged.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 19.8 points lower, or 0.07%, at 28,494.20. Earlier in the day, however, the 30-stock average was down more than 300 points. The S&P 500 slid 0.2% to 3,483.34 and the Nasdaq Composite pulled back 0.5% to 11,713.87.

“Markets fear a slowdown in activity as new virus cases rise. Europe has reported its highest weekly numbers of new cases. More than half the European countries are now labelled as red, meaning travel restrictions are in place and more lockdowns are being introduced,” said Adelaide Timbrell, economist at ANZ Research, in a Friday note.

Meanwhile, sentiment was further dampened on the employment front in the U.S. The Labor Department said Thursday there were 898,000 first-time filers of jobless benefits in the prior week, higher than a Dow Jones estimate of 830,000.


Amid the negative sentiment, the U.S. dollar markedly strengthened against the other major currencies.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.856, jumping from levels above 93.4 the previous day.

“The USD is broadly stronger with the risk off mood resulting in a safe haven bid on the greenback,” wrote Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at the National Australia Bank.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.38 per dollar, weakening slightly from levels above 105.1 earlier. The Australian dollar changed hands at 0.7092, falling back from above 0.71 in previous days.

What’s on tap: (All times in HK/SIN)

— 7:30 a.m.: Japan’s national consumer price index
— 8:30 a.m.: Singapore’s non-oil exports, trade balance

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