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Rise in U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Haunts Asian Markets

Asian stock markets had been pinned down Thursday, haunted by the rising U.S. coronavirus death count, and with buyers braced for more indicators of economic ache in the world’s largest economy, ahead of another seemingly record week of jobless claims.

Rise in U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Haunts Asian Markets

With hopes growing that the worst of the pandemic could have passed for China and South Korea, the mood was less bleak than on Wall Street, which fell overnight.

European futures inched higher, with EURO STOXX 50 futures up 0.2% and DAX and FTSE futures making tiny gains. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 jumped 1.6% after the Wall St rout.

Yet MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan struggled to jump and traded flat. Japan’s Nikkei followed a heavy fall on Wednesday with a 1.4% plunge.

Australia’s bank-heavy benchmark stayed in the red, closing down 2%, after New Zealand’s central bank ordered a withdrawal of bank dividends – hitting Australia’s banks, which own most of New Zealand’s giant banks.

Bonds leaped and the yield on safe-haven 10-year U.S. Treasuries – which drops when prices rise – plunged as far as 0.5680%, its lowest since March 10, and hardly budged higher.

U.S. labor sector data will likely present the next test of market sentiment and of the visible ache in the real economy.

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