Australian shares to slip as virus rattles US

Shares look like falling early on the Australian market in line with the US, where another round of business shutdowns to contain a surge in coronavirus cases has spooked investors.

The Australian SPI 200 futures contract was lower by 24.0 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 5896.0 points at 0800 AEST on Friday.

The United States recorded more than 60,000 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, setting a single-day global record while Florida and Texas reported a record one-day increase in deaths.

Investors also began to turn their focus to the second-quarter earnings season, which shifts into high gear next week.

S&P 500 companies are expected to post a more than 40 per cent decline in year-over-year earnings, which would be the biggest quarterly profit drop since the 2008 financial crisis, based on IBES data from Refinitiv.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 361.19 points, or 1.39 per cent, to 25,706.09, the S&P 500 lost 17.89 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 3,152.05 and the Nasdaq Composite added 55.25 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 10,547.75 on Thursday.

Oil prices fell 94 US cents to US$42.35 a barrel as investors worried renewed restrictions in some US states would reduce demand.

In Australia, where Melbourne has entered six weeks of lockdown due to a virus resurgence, national cabinet will meet again on Friday.

State and territory leaders will consider a proposal from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to cap overseas plane arrivals to ease the pressure on managing these people in quarantine.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.61 US cents at 0800 AEST, lower from 69.86 US cents at the close of local trade on Thursday.

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