Trump’s coronavirus hits US stocks, oil prices

U.S. stock futures and oil prices fell on Friday after President Donald Trump said, he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus, weeks ahead of elections.

Futures for the S&P 500 slid 1.21% by early afternoon in Asia, while Treasury yields also fell.

Brent crude slipped on the news and was down 78 cents, or 1.9%, at $40.53 a barrel at 0516 GMT. U.S. oil was 79 cents, or 2%, lower at $37.93.

U.S. oil is heading for a drop of more than 5% this week, while Brent is on track to fall more than 4%, in a second consecutive week of decline for both contracts.

The U.S. dollar rose, particularly against the British pound, the Australian and New Zealand dollars in a sign of risk aversion.

Trump earlier said on Twitter that he and his wife had been tested for coronavirus after Hope Hicks, a senior advisor who recently traveled with the president, tested positive.

He later tweeted he and the first lady had tested positive: “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he said.

Trump’s positive could cause a new wave of market volatility as investors brace for the hotly-contested presidential election in November.

“It has the potential to reduce Trump’s campaigning ability. He’s got a lot on and it’s an interruption,” said Sean Callow, currency strategist at Westpac in Sydney.

“It also hurts him as far as the whole narrative that it’s really not much to worry about – it puts the COVID crisis itself back front and centre.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.27%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO fell 0.98% as a decline in oil and copper prices weighed on the country’s resources sector.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index .N225 erased gains and fell 0.69% as the Tokyo Stock Exchange resumed normal trading after its worst-ever outage brought the world’s third-largest equity market to a standstill.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures STXEc1 were up 0.06%, German DAX futures FDXc1 rose 0.03%, but FTSE futures FFIc1 were down by 1.02%.

Markets had been choppy early after a spate of data, including jobless claims and consumer spending, suggested that the plodding U.S. economic recovery could be losing steam.

Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq NQc1 fell 1.7%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield fell to 0.6545%.

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