Asian shares set to slip as coronavirus concerns weigh

Asian shares set to slip as coronavirus concerns weigh
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NEW YORK (July 10): Asian shares were set to open mostly lower on Friday as record-breaking new coronavirus cases and deaths in several U.S. states stoked concerns that new lockdowns could derail the economic recovery, and investors looked forward to earnings season.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures were down 0.41%, Japan's Nikkei 225 futures edged up 0.02%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures lost 0.87%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 added 0.12%.

More than 60,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported across the United States on Wednesday, the greatest single-day tally of cases by any country since the virus emerged late last year in China. U.S. deaths rose by more than 900 for the second straight day.

That heightened concerns that renewed lockdowns could hurt the economic recovery.

The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits dropped to a near four-month low last week, data showed.

But investors remained cautious as the report also said a record 32.9 million people were collecting unemployment checks in the third week of June, supporting expectations the labor market would take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. dollar attracted safehaven inflows, rising 0.34% against a basket of currencies.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.39%, to 25,706.09 and the S&P 500 dropped 0.56%, to 3,152.05.

"Weakness in financial stocks, with the bank sub-index down 2.5%, comes ahead of next week's Q2 reporting season that sees JP Morgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo all report next Tuesday and following news that Wells Fargo is planning to cut 'thousands' of jobs starting later this year," said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.

Technology stocks rose, lifting the Nasdaq Composite up 0.53%, to 10,547.75, for its fifth record closing high in six days.

Mainland China shares rallied for an eighth day on Thursday, fueled by retail investor enthusiasm and policy support, even as regulators cracked down on margin financing and as state media warned of market risks.

The rise in China's mainland equities has some similarities to the bubble there five years ago, but it is not yet close in scale, and prices could continue to inflate for some time, said Capital Economics economist Oliver Jones.

"That said, another boom-bust cycle in China's equities could have even greater knock-on effects for markets elsewhere than before, with foreign holdings far higher now than five years ago," he said.

Fueled by illegal margin lending, the 2015-16 market bubble saw the benchmark Shanghai index fall more than 40% from its peak in just a few weeks.