Wall Street buffeted by second wave COVID-19 worries, ASX to open flat

Australian shares are likely to begin their day with very little momentum as the continued surge in COVID-19 infections sours the mood across global markets.

By 7:00am AEST, ASX futures were down 3 points, practically flat.

The Australian dollar had slipped (-0.5pc) to 68.5 US cents.

In economic news, the Bureau of Statistics will release its May preliminary retail sales data at 11.30am AEST.

A strong rebound is expected after April’s abysmal result, which saw retail trade suffer a record plunge (-17.7pc).

Overnight, Wall Street experienced a choppy or directionless session, slipping in and out of negative territory all throughout.

Investors were cautious as a sustained rise in coronavirus infections dampened hopes of a swift recovery from the pandemic-induced economic slump.

Several states have reported new outbreaks after re-opening their economies, but President Donald Trump insisted the US would not enact a new round of restrictions to curb the spread.

The Dow Jones fell by 40 points (or 0.2 per cent) to 26,080.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices added 0.1 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

“Investors are in wait-and-see mode,” said Charlie Ripley, senior market strategist for Allianz Investment Management in Minneapolis.

Sentiment was weighed down by another 1.5 million Americans filing initial jobless claims last week.

All up, 20.5 million are receiving ongoing unemployment benefits, suggesting the US labour market has a long road to recovery.

European markets slipped, with moderate losses for Britian’s FTSE (-0.5pc) and Germany’s DAX (-0.8pc).

The Bank of England increased its bond-buying program — also referred to as “money printing” —  by another $181 billion (£100b) to help revive the economy, but sharply slowed the pace of its purchases.

In oil markets, Brent crude lifted sharply (+1.8pc) to $US41.44 a barrel.

Spot gold slipped (-0.2pc) to $US1,722.62 an ounce.

More to come.