Asian stocks dip as virus spread tamps vaccine hopes



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Man wearing a face mask is seen inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building, as the country is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai

By Lawrence Delevingne

BOSTON (Reuters) – Stocks in Asia were 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% in early trading. Hong Kong’s futures () lost 0.16%, while {{178|Japan’s Ni () added just 0.22%.

“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 U.S. COVID-19 infections hit fresh records and were above 100,000 for an eighth consecutive day, according to a Reuters tally.

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

On Thursday, top Democrats in the U.S. Congress urged renewed negotiations over a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus aid proposal, but the top Republican 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 (N:) and Goldman Sachs (N:) down 3% and 1.6%, respectively.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average () fell 317.46 points, or 1.08%, to 29,080.17 and the S&P 500 () lost 35.65 points, or 1.00%, to 3,537.01. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite () fared slightly better, dropping 76.84 points, or 0.65%, to 11,709.59.

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The pan-European STOXX 600 index () lost 0.88% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe () shed 0.62%.

U.S. Treasury yields also sank on Thursday, weighed down by the persistent rise in coronavirus cases and data showing inflation remained benign in the world’s largest economy. The U.S. yield curve, viewed in part as a gauge of risk appetite, also flattened.

The U.S. dollar held steady on Thursday as investors were cautious over expectations about a COVID-19 vaccine.

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

Oil prices fell on Thursday on virus-linked economic fears and an unexpected rise in U.S. crude stockpiles. U.S. crude () recently fell 0.71% to $40.83 per barrel and Brent () was at $43.27, down 1.21% on the day.

was flat at around $1,875 an ounce.

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