U.S. stock markets expected to open lower as virus fears dent sentiment

U.S. stocks

Stock futures drift lower

U.S. stocks were set to open in the red on Friday as a surge in confirmed coronavirus cases continued to dampen hopes of a quick economic recovery.

By 5:30 a.m. ET, futures tied to the Dow Jones were down 190.5 points or 0.74% to 25380.5. S&P 500 futures were down 19.38 points, or 0.62% to 3,121.62 while the Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 34.88 points, or 0.33% to 10,692.62.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, a total of 65,551 new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday, a record for a 24-hour period. The previous single-day record was on Tuesday, with over 60,200 cases in one day.

There are now more than 3 million cases of the virus in the country, while the death tally stands at 133,291.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong plans to shut all schools from Monday after the territory recorded an increase in locally transmitted coronavirus infections.

Crude futures fall after EIA warns of demand risk

Crude futures also tumbled early Friday after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday that oil demand recovery is at risk from coronavirus resurgence.

According to the agency, demand ought to rebound sharply in the third-quarter as economies reopen, but an increase in coronavirus cases is “casting a shadow over the outlook.”

“The large, and in some countries, accelerating number of COVID-19 cases is a disturbing reminder that the pandemic is not under control and the risk to our market outlook is almost certainly to the downside,” the IEA said.

As of 5:30 a.m. ET, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down $1.07, or 2.7% to $38.55 a barrel. International Brent crude futures were at $41.34 a barrel, down $1.01, or 2.38%.

Trump administration expected to announce actions against France over its digital tax

In other news, Reuters says that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to announce deferred retaliatory measures against France over its digital services tax today, but will suspend them while France defers the collections from American tech companies.

“We’re going to announce that we’re going to be taking certain sanctions against France, suspending them like they’re suspending collection of the taxes right now,” Reuters quoted Lighthizer as saying.

The actions are tied to a U.S. Section 301 inquiry into foreign tax, which the Trump administration says unfairly target American tech giants such Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)