Coronavirus, RBA meeting minutes, oil in focus

Stocks in Asia were set to decline at the open on Tuesday following a historic plunge overnight in U.S. crude prices.

Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 19,480 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 19,320. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 19,669.12.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia were set to dip. The SPI futures contract was at 5,311, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 5,353. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s minutes for its April meeting are set to be out around 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

On the corporate news front, developments on Virgin Australia will be watched following a Reuters report Monday that said the airline is set to enter voluntary administration as it has gone deep into debt following the coronavirus crisis. It means a way for the company would be worked out, including options such as asset sales, an agreement with creditors, debt write-offs or a winding up of the company, according to the report. Trading of the company’s stock has been halted.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 592.05 points lower at 23,650.44 while the S&P 500 slipped 1.8% to end its trading day at 2,823.16. The Nasdaq Composite pulled back 1% to close at 8,560.73.

The moves came as the May contract for West Texas Intermediate, which expires Tuesday, dropped more than 100% to settle at below zero — at negative $37.63 per barrel, a bizarre move tied to weak demand outlook and storage capacity issues.

In the morning of Asian hours on Tuesday, the price of the May WTI contract remained negative. The June U.S. crude contract was at $21.47 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against as basket of its peers, was last at 99.955 after touching levels around 100 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.70 per dollar after seeing levels below 107.4 last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6343, off levels above $0.635 seen yesterday.

What’s on tap for Tuesday:

  • Australia: Reserve Bank of Australia’s minutes for April meeting at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN

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