A drop is expected at the beginning of trade on the Australian share market after more signs of a worsening coronavirus pandemic prompted US markets to close lower.

The Australian SPI 200 futures contract was lower by 56.0 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 6006.0 points at 0700 AEST on Friday.

In the US, jobless claims unexpectedly ticked higher to 1.416 million last week.

Congress kept working to pass more economic stimulus. Senate Republicans said they could present their version of the bill to Democrats as early as this week.

Total US coronavirus cases topped 4 million on Thursday, and there were nearly 2600 new cases every hour on average, according to a Reuters tally.

Technology stocks had the sharpest drops after a better-than-expected profit report from Microsoft failed to satisfy investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 353.51 points, or 1.31 per cent, to 26,652.33, the S&P 500 lost 40.36 points, or 1.23 per cent, to 3,235.66 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 244.71 points, or 2.29 per cent, to 10,461.42.

Other stock indexes around the world were mixed, while uncertainty across markets helped gold touch its highest price in nearly nine years.

In Australia today, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will further detail the the economic task ahead of Australia during the pandemic in a speech to the National Press Club. This follows his budget update on Thursday.

Federal, state and territory leaders will have a regular national cabinet meeting to discuss the virus crisis and measures to cope. The prime minister is expected to front media to outline the talks afterwards.

The Australian dollar was trading at 70.99 US cents at 0700 AEST, higher from 71.52 US cents at Thursday’s close.