Coronavirus, corporate earnings, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower at the open on Friday as concerns around the ongoing coronavirus outbreak continue to weigh on investor sentiment.

Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 23,720 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 23,730. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 23,827.73.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia were little changed in early trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 hovering around the flatline.

China is set to halve tariff rates on certain U.S. products worth about $75 billion with effect later on Friday, as previously announced by Beijing in early February.

Retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. goods will be cut from 10% to 5%, and from 5% to 2.5% on others, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Finance earlier this month. The adjustments will take effect from 1:01 p.m on Feb. 14, it said, without specifying which time zone it was referring to.

Investors will also continue to watch for developments on the coronavirus outbreak following Thursday’s spike in the number of cases reported after authorities in Hubei changed the way cases are diagnosed.

On the corporate earnings front, Japan’s Toshiba and Singapore’s Singapore Airlines are expected to announce their quarterly results on Friday.

Overnight on Wall Street, stocks slipped from record highs amid the coronavirus fears. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 128.11 points to 29,423.31 while the S&P 500 fell nearly 0.2% to 3,373.94. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.1% lower at 9,711.97.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.100 after seeing an earlier low below 98.9.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.79 per dollar after seeing levels around 109.9 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6715 after declining from levels above $0.672 yesterday.

What’s on tap on Friday:

  • Singapore: Singapore Airlines earnings for the third quarter
  • Japan: Toshiba earnings for the third quarter

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