Oil prices, coronavirus, currencies in focus

Stocks in Asia were set to trade higher Friday following a record surge in oil prices that saw U.S. crude futures soaring more than 24%.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 18,280 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 18,090. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 17,818.72.

Meanwhile, shares in Australia edged higher in early trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 1.55%. The energy subindex soared more than 9% as oil firms such as Santos and Oil Search skyrocketed 12.72% and 19.92%, respectively.

Investor focus on Friday will likely be on the overnight surge in oil prices, with U.S. crude settling 24.67% higher at $25.32 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude futures also gained 17.8% to $29.14 per barrel.

The moves came after U.S. President Donald Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen that he spoke to President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and expects them to announce an oil production cut of 10 million to 15 million barrels.

Still, concerns over the economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic are likely to linger. On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department said U.S. initial jobless claims surged to more than 6 million last week, reaching a new record as coronavirus-related shutdowns roll through the country.

On the economic data front, a private survey on China’s services sector for March is expected later Friday, with the Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) set to be released at 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 469.93 points higher at 21,413.44 while the S&P 500 was up 2.3% to end its trading day at 2,526.90. The Nasdaq Composite closed 1.7% higher at 7,487.31.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 100.180 after crossing the 100 barrier earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.18 per dollar after seeing levels below 108 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6056 after seeing levels above $0.612 earlier in the week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap in the trading day ahead:

  • China: Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers’ Index at 9:45 a.m. HK/SIN

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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