ASX futures point to a flat day as new coronavirus cases emerge
After a week that has featured some extreme increases and declines in the S&P/ASX 200 index (XJO), the ASX SPI200 index is indicating we are in for a relatively flat day, down 5 points to 5922 points.
This comes on the back of yesterday’s decline of 0.9% or 55 points, largely driven by the release of higher than expected unemployment figures.
US markets were mixed last night, while UK and European markets were in decline, suggesting our markets are likely to run on their own merits.
One factor that could place a drag on things is the fresh outbreak of coronavirus in Victoria, particularly given that three of the cases were involved in protests where massive numbers of people were potentially exposed in a close contact environment which involved physical contact.
It seems to be hitting home now that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, nor make exceptions for protestors, indicating a harder line may be taken on the basis that when it comes to protection against deadly viruses, all lives matter.
As the ASX tumbled yesterday, so did other markets in the Asia-Pacific region with the Nikkei 225 being hardest hit as it came off more than 0.4% or 100 points to close at 22,355 points.
The Hang Seng fell marginally to 24,465 points while the Shanghai Composite gained three points, closing at 2939 points.
In the UK, the FTSE 100 shed 29 points or 0.5% to close at 6224 points.
Negative sentiment was even more evident in mainland European markets with the Dax sliding 100 points or 0.8% to close at 12,281 points.
The CAC 40 was down 0.7% to 4958 points.
Despite a late session 150 point rally, the Dow still finished down 40 points at 26,080 points.
The S&P 500 was relatively flat, closing at 3115 points.
Stocks in the financial sector continued to place a drag on the index with American Express and Goldman Sachs Group being notable casualties.
It was better news on the oil front that tempered the decline as the likes of Exxon Mobil Corp Chevron Corp made good ground.
Once again, it was the NASDAQ that led the way, rallying 0.3% or 32 points to close at 9943 points, now only 0.5% off recapturing the 10,000 point mark.
The CBOE Volatility Index was relatively unmoved, closing at 33 points.
Oil and base metals in the spotlight
On the commodities front, oil was the main talking point as the Brent Crude Oil Continuous Contract surged from about US$40 per barrel to US$41.50 per barrel, closing in on last week’s three month high.
Gold spiked early in the session, hitting a high of approximately US$1750 per ounce before settling at US$1730 per ounce.
Iron ore came off 1.6%, and it is now hovering in the vicinity of US$102 per tonne.
Looking across base metals, lead recorded its third consecutive day of gains, consolidating above the US$0.80 per pound mark for the first time since March.
Copper appears to be back in favour after a retracement earlier in the week, and it closed just shy of US$2.63 per pound mark, which was the five month high set last week.
Zinc maintained its positive momentum with its fifth consecutive day of gains pushing it above the US$0.92 per pound mark for the first time since February.
It has been a rollercoaster month for nickel with some fairly significant ups and downs, but last night’s performance sees it threatening the US$5.90 per pound mark for the fourth time in the last fortnight.
The Australian dollar retraced late in the session to finish shy of the US$0.69 mark that it pushed up towards early in the day.