Coronavirus, Australia jobs data, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia were set to open lower on Thursday as concerns over the scale of the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on sentiment.

Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 19,335 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 19,290. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 19,550.09.

Shares in Australia were also poised to decline. The SPI futures contract was at 5,340, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 5,466.70.

Investors will await the release of Australia’s jobs data for March, set to be out at around 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN, which could provide clues to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economy.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 445.41 points to close at 23,504.35 while the S&P 500 ended its trading day 2.2% lower at 2,783.36. The Nasdaq Composite closed 1.4% lower at 8,393.18. Wednesday’s moves marked the Dow and S&P 500’s worst session since April 1.

The moves came as a report from the U.S. Commerce Department published Wednesday showed retail sales stateside in March plunging a record 8.7% — the largest one-month decline since it began tracking the series in 1992.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.461 after seeing levels below 99.0 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.47 per dollar, as compared to levels above 108 seen earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6303 after declining from levels above $0.64 yesterday.

What’s on tap for Thursday:

  • Australia: Employment change for March at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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