ASX tipped to defy lower Wall St lead

Shares are tipped to rise early in trade on the Australian market, despite US markets closing lower on rising unemployment figures.

The Australian SPI 200 futures contract was up by 14.0 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 5990.0 points at 0800 AEST on Friday.

In the US, 1.3 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, largely due to coronavirus restrictions and impact. This was a weaker improvement than economists expected.

There were 32 million Americans on unemployment benefits.

Other reports were more encouraging, with sales at stores and online last month growing more strongly than economists expected, particularly for clothing.

But the relentless rise of coronavirus counts across much of the United States has been pulling markets lower, threatening to undo all the improvements.

Technology stocks slumped, while banks continued to ride the momentum of good earnings reports earlier this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 per cent to end at 26,734.71 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.34 per cent to 3,215.57. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.73 per cent, to 10,473.83.

In Australia on Friday, investors will be watching daily coronavirus case numbers in NSW and Victoria and hoping no more restrictions are ordered.

NSW health authorities are continuing efforts to trace people infected from an outbreak in Sydney’s south-west. There have been at least 40 cases linked to the outbreak, which began at a hotel.

Melbourne residents are in a six-week lockdown, but could face more severe limits if case numbers do not fall. Victoria recorded 317 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, Australia’s biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases.

In better news for the nation, the Northern Territory will re-open its borders to some parts of Australia for the first time since the coronavirus forced their closure nearly four months ago.

The Australian dollar was trading at 69.69 US cents at 0800 AEST, down from 69.92 US cents at Thursday’s close.

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