ASX shares to edge higher

Shares on the Australian market are poised for a better start after US markets rallied overnight on economic recovery hopes.

The SPI 200 futures contract was higher 45 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 5,353.0 at 0800 AEST on Friday, indicating a small gain in early trade.

Jeweller Michael Hill has told the ASX this morning it will join the throng of retailers re-opening from coronavirus closures.

The company said it will re-open nearly 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand from Saturday. The remainder will open over the coming month.

Michael Hill closed its 301 stores across the world in late March due to COVID-19 health concerns and few people shopping.

Meanwhile Virgin Australia’s administrators at Deloitte will have a better sense of which parties are interested in buying the beleaguered airline, when non-binding indicative offers are made on Friday.

Nineteen parties interested in buying the airline, which entered voluntary administration last month, were granted access to a data room after signing confidentiality agreements as of Monday, according to an affidavit published by the Federal Court of Australia.

In the US overnight, Wall Street surged as investors weighed the prospect of economic recovery against bellicose remarks from President Donald Trump regarding US-China trade.

Comments by Trump blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak and revived trade war fears, even as mandated lockdowns continue to damage the economy.

That damage was in evidence in a report from the US Labor Department, which showed just under 3 million new jobless claims last week, pushing the seven-week tally well over 36 million.

A White House spokeswoman said Trump is open to another possible stimulus bill, but will not sign the bill put forward by House of Representatives Democrats.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 377.37 points, or 1.62 per cent, to 23,625.34, the S&P 500 gained 32.5 points, or 1.15 per cent, to 2,852.5 and the Nasdaq Composite added 80.55 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 8,943.72.

The Australian dollar was buying 64.64 US cents at 0800 AEST, up from 64.37 US cents at the close of trade on Thursday.

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