WASHINGTON, D. C., RAW – Asian markets are set to open higher on Friday after US equities rose as investors weighed the outlook for economic growth and inflation and welcomed progress on COVID vaccination rollouts.

“Market sentiment remains fairly bullish, and volatility, by post-pandemic standards, is remarkable low,” said IG Markets analyst, Kyle Rodda.

“At the moment – and indeed, this could be a level of complacency – the week’s choppiness in stocks has been taken in stride.”

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures rose 0.30 per cent in early trading, while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.14 per cent.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.77 per cent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.55 per cent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures fell 0.02 per cent.


Top Australian Brokers


The Nikkei 225 index closed the overnight session up 1.14 per cent at 28,729.88. The futures contract is up 0.52 per cent from that close. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures rose 0.37 per cent.

US Labor Department data showed claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a one-year low last week, a sign that the US economy is on the verge of stronger growth as the public health situation improves and temperatures rise.

In his first formal news conference, US President Joe Biden said he would double his administration’s vaccination rollout plan after reaching the previous goal of 100 million shots 42 days ahead of schedule.

On Wall Street, stocks closely tied to an economic recovery led the rebound while some ongoing weakness among high-growth stocks and shares of energy companies held back the S&P 500 and other major indexes from moving meaningfully higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 199.42 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 32,619.48, the S&P 500 gained 20.38 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 3,909.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.79 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 12,977.68.

Oil tumbled after surging a day prior when a container ship became stuck in the Suez Canal. The ship may block the vital shipping lane for weeks.

US crude was last down 0.09 per cent to $US58.51 ($A77.09) per barrel and Brent was at $US61.84 ($A81.48), down 3.99 per cent on the day.

Weighing on sentiment was a selloff in Chinese technology shares amid concern they will be delisted from US exchanges on worries about a semiconductor shortage.

Shares of Nike Inc fell 3.4 per cent as the sporting goods giant faced a Chinese social media backlash over its comments about reports of forced labour in Xinjiang.

The dollar index hit its highest since November overnight, at 92.697, breaking its 200-day moving average.

The dollar index rose 0.265 per cent, with the euro up 0.05 per cent to $US1.177 ($A1.551).

“The dollar is absolutely critical,” said James Athey, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

“If the dollar starts rallying, that becomes a problem. It means commodity weakness and emerging-market weakness and it starts to provide a disinflationary countervailing narrative.”

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose in price to yield 1.6332 per cent, from 1.614 per cent late on Thursday.

Spot gold added 0.1 per cent to $US1,727.73 ($A2,276.47) an ounce.