Covid-19, Bank of Japan, currencies, oil

SINGAPORE — Shares in Japan were set to trade lower at the Friday open as investors look ahead to the Bank of Japan’s rate decision and monetary policy statement expected later in the day.Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 26,750 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 26,740. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 26,806.67.Meanwhile, shares in Australia slipped in early trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 down about 0.4%.The Bank of Japan is set to release its interest rate decision and monetary policy statement on Friday.”The consensus view is that the Bank will extend its special funding programs to help businesses, while keeping its main policy rates and QE programmes unchanged,” Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note. “That said, there is a meaningful minority that expects an extension to the ETF purchase limit.”Rising coronavirus cases in certain parts of North Asia may also weigh on investor sentiment.Japan’s capital Tokyo on Thursday saw a record number of new infections, with the metropolitan government raising its alert for the strain on the medical system to the highest level, according to Kyodo News.Over in South Korea, local news agency Yonhap reported Thursday that daily new coronavirus cases crossed the 1,000 level for the second day in a row.Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 gained 0.6% to end its trading day at 3,722.48 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8% to close at 12,764.75. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 148.83 points to close at 30,303.37.Thursday’s moves on Wall Street saw the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hitting intraday and closing records, while the Dow posted its highest-ever closing level.CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 89.805 after weakening this week from levels above 90.4.The Japanese yen traded at 103.13 per dollar, having seen levels above 103.8 against the greenback earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7616, after trading at levels around $0.763 earlier in the week.Here’s a look at what’s on tap:Japan: Bank of Japan releases interest rate decision, monetary policy statement

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