Australian stocks are poised to open lower despite a rebound on US markets as health authorities around the world took steps to monitor and contain a deadly virus outbreak in China.

The SPI200 futures contract was down 15 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 7,061 at 8am Sydney time on Thursday.

It comes after a record-breaking run for the Australian share market, which smashed through the 7100 mark on Wednesday on broad-based gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 66.4 points, or 0.94 per cent, at 7132.7 while the broader All Ordinaries index closed up 68.5 points, or 0.95 per cent, at 7249.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.03 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.03 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.14 per cent.

Consumer staples stocks were the biggest performers after it was reported German retailer Kaufland would be abandoning its entry into the Australian market.

Traders will be looking to see Thursday’s major Australian employment data print.

The Australian dollar was buying 68.43 cents at 8am on Thursday.


The Chinese stock market reversed early losses to end higher on Wednesday, as Beijing vowed to contain a virus outbreak that has killed nine and infected 440 in the country.

The coronavirus spread from Wuhan in central China to several other cities and abroad, just as millions of people prepared to travel for the Lunar New Year between 24 and 31 January.

Shanghai shares closed up 0.3 per cent and the blue-chip CSI300 ended 0.4 per cent firmer, lifting the benchmarks from their lowest levels this year hit during morning trade.

Safe-haven 10-year Chinese government bonds fell after rallying in the morning session, with yields rebounding above the closely watched 3 per cent. Treasury futures shed sharp gains from early trade to end 0.02 per cent lower.

The recovery followed a televised news conference by China’s National Health Commission where vice-minister Li Bin said Beijing is tightening containment measures in hospitals and stepping up co-operation with the World Health Organization.

President Xi Jinping has asked officials to make battling the virus a top priority.

The Hong Kong market, which marked its worst day in over five months on Tuesday, closed up 1.3 per cent.

In Japan, the Nikkei share average rose 0.7 per cent to 24,031.35 to claw back most of its 0.9 per cent losses from the previous session, while the broader Topix added 0.5 per cent to 1,744.13.


European shares reversed course and edged lower on Wednesday as US President Donald Trump threatened to impose high tariffs on imports of cars from the European Union, pushing automobile stocks to a three-month low.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump warned of the tariffs if the EU did not agree to a trade deal. The EU and the US have recently locked horns over issues ranging from a French digital tax to aircraft subsidies.

The threat prompted a response from Germany’s ambassador to the US, Emily Haber, that the EU could also impose duties on US products.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was 0.1 per cent down, having touched a record high of 424.94 earlier in the day.

Automobile stocks were the worst performing sector, dropping more than 1 per cent to their lowest since mid-October. The tariffs threaten to increase pressure on a sector that has already been grappling with a fall in global demand.

Finnish tyre maker Nokian Tyres and German car maker Daimler were the top losers on the auto subindex.

Losses in the STOXX 600 were somewhat tempered by anticipation of a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday, while news of Chinese measures to contain a new virus also lent some support.

While the ECB is widely expected to stand pat on its benchmark interest rate during its first meeting in 2020, investors will be watching for the bank’s outlook for the year, with economic growth in the bloc seen bottoming out.

Italy’s FTMIB lagged after reports that Luigi di Maio would step down as the leader of the co-ruling 5-Star Movement, stirring fresh election uncertainty.

Frankfurt’s DAX fell 0.3 per cent, having touched a record high earlier in the day following a survey on Tuesday that showed a US-China trade truce had lifted German investor morale to its highest since 2015.

German agrigoods maker K&S was the worst performer on the STOXX 600 after Bank of America resumed coverage of the stock with an “underperform” rating.

On the other hand, Norway’s Gjensidige was the best performer on the STOXX 600, ending at a record high after the insurer posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and set an extra dividend on top of its normal payout to shareholders.

North America

Technology shares led the S&P 500 marginally higher on Wednesday, as a healthy forecast from IBM helped mitigate worries over the developing coronavirus outbreak.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed barely in the black after approaching, then backing down from record highs the day after virus fears prompted a sell-off. The Dow closed nominally lower.

Optimism was boosted by International Business Machines , which posted surprise quarterly revenue growth and forecast higher-than-expected full-year profit. Its shares advanced 3.4 per cent.

Chipmakers rose following a strong forecast from Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding NV.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index gained 0.8 per cent.

Global precautions have been put in place to curb a viral outbreak from China, which has now claimed 17 lives. The World Health Organization has convened to determine whether the situation was a global health emergency.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.63 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 29,186.41, the S&P 500 gained 0.98 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 3,321.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.96 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 9,383.77.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, six ended the session in positive territory. Tech was up the most, while energy was the biggest laggard.

Fourth-quarter earnings season is well under way, with 58 companies in the S&P 500 having reported, 67.2 per cent of which have beaten analyst expectations, according to Refinitiv data.

Analysts now expect fourth-quarter earnings to have contracted by 0.8 per cent year-on-year.

Streaming pioneer Netflix Inc acknowledged stiffer competition in the United States, where quarterly growth fell short of analyst estimates. Its shares closed down 3.6 per cent.

Shares of Boeing Co extended their fall, dropping 1.4 per cent in the wake of the planemaker’s announcement that it does not expect approval for its 737 MAX aircraft to return to service until summer.

Tesla Inc continued its rally, rising 4.1 per cent and becoming the first publicly listed US automaker to cross the US$100 billion market valuation mark.

On the economic front, sales of existing homes in December blew past economist estimates to reach a near two-year high.