Coronavirus, China PMI, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia were set to rise at the open on Thursday following positive developments overnight on a potential new treatment for Covid-19. Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks, which return to trade on Thursday following a holiday yesterday. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at […]

Stocks in Asia were set to rise at the open on Thursday following positive developments overnight on a potential new treatment for Covid-19.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks, which return to trade on Thursday following a holiday yesterday. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 20,400 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 19,960. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 19,771.19.

Shares in Australia were also set to get a boost at the open, with the SPI futures contract at 5,468, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 5,393.40.

Investors will watch for market reaction to developments overnight regarding the use of Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir as a potential new treatment for Covid-19 patients. 

Gilead Sciences said Wednesday preliminary results of a coronavirus drug trial showed at least 50% of patients treated with a five-day dosage of remdesivir improved and more than half were discharged from the hospital within two weeks.

Later Wednesday, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said NIAID’s remdesivir drug trial, which enrolled about 800 patients, showed “quite good news” and that the drug would set a new standard of care for Covid-19 patients.

Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more then 3.1 million and taken at least 226,771 lives, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

On the economic data front, China is set to release its manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for April at around 9:00 a.m. HK/SIN. The data release could provide further clues as to whether the Chinese economy is bouncing back after a dismal first quarter GDP print as the country battled the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve pledged Wednesday to keep rates near zero for as long as needed and provide additional help to the economy.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 532.31 points to close at 24,633.86 while the S&P 500 ended its trading day 2.7% higher at 2,939.51. The Nasdaq Composite closed 3.6% higher at 8,914.71.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.565 after seeing levels above 100 earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.60 per dollar, stronger than levels above 107 seen earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar was at $0.6552 following its rise from levels below $0.648 seen earlier this week.

What’s on tap for Thursday:

  • China: Manufacturing PMI at 9:00 a.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.

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