US stock futures face further losses as Trump tests positive for Covid-19

REUTERS | Friday, 2 October 2020

US stock futures extended losses on Friday after President Donald Trump said he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus, weeks ahead of elections.

Futures for the S&P 500 EScv1 slid 1.21 per cent by early afternoon in Asia, while Treasury yields also fell.

The US dollar rose, particularly against the British pound, the Australian and New Zealand dollars in a sign of risk aversion.

Trump earlier said on Twitter that he and his wife had been tested for coronavirus after Hope Hicks, a senior advisor who recently traveled with the president, tested positive.

He later tweeted he and the first lady had tested positive: “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he said.

Trump’s positive could cause a new wave of market volatility as investors brace for the hotly-contested presidential election in November.

“It has the potential to reduce Trump’s campaigning ability. He’s got a lot on and it’s an interruption,” said Sean Callow, currency strategist at Westpac in Sydney.

“It also hurts him as far as the whole narrative that it’s really not much to worry about - it puts the COVID crisis itself back front and centre.”

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.27 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO fell 0.98 per cent as a decline in oil and copper prices weighed on the country's resources sector.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index .N225 erased gains and fell 0.69 per cent as the Tokyo Stock Exchange resumed normal trading after its worst-ever outage brought the world's third-largest equity market to a standstill.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures STXEc1 were up 0.06 per cent, German DAX futures FDXc1 rose 0.03%, but FTSE futures FFIc1 were down by 1.02 per cent.

Markets had been choppy early after a spate of data, including jobless claims and consumer spending, suggested that the plodding U.S. economic recovery could be losing steam.

Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq NQc1 fell 1.7 per cent. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield fell to 0.6545 per cent.

China’s stock and bond markets, foreign exchange and commodity futures markets are closed October 1-8 for the Golden Week holiday. South Korea and Hong Kong markets are also closed on Friday for holidays.

US markets kicked off the fourth quarter by closing higher on Thursday while investors tracked progress in negotiations for additional fiscal stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.13 per cent on Thursday. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.53% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.42 per cent.

US consumer spending is starting to slow due to a shaky jobs market. If policymakers cannot agree on more support, the US economy could lose more momentum.

Traders are also waiting for the Labor Department's report on non-farm payrolls and the jobless rate later Friday, following new layoff announcements from the likes of Disney DIS.N and Goldman Sachs GS.N.

The dollar index jumped 0.3 per cent on risk aversion.

Spot gold XAU= fell 0.55 per cent to $1,894.60 an ounce, adding to its worst month since November 2016, while oil prices continued to fall, adding to a 10 per cent September drop.

Brent crude futures were trading down 0.93 per cent at $40.54 a barrel on Friday, while US crude futures were down 0.98 per cent at $38.34 a barrel.

Oil prices fell more than 3.0 per cent  on Thursday as rising coronavirus cases around the world dampened the demand outlook, while a rise last month in member output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also pressured prices