Asia Markets

Oil prices drop as Trump announces positive test for coronavirus; yen strengthens against dollar

Key Points
  • Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Japan's Tokyo Stock Exchange returned to trade on Friday following a halting of trade yesterday caused by a hardware glitch.
  • Markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and India were closed on Friday for holidays.

SINGAPORE — Oil prices dropped and the safe-haven yen strengthened in the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he tested positive for the coronavirus.

International benchmark Brent crude futures were down 2.42% to $39.94 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also shed 2.43% to $37.78 per barrel. That followed a sizable decline on Thursday of nearly 4%.

Shares of oil companies regionally also fell in Friday trade. In Australia, shares of Beach Energy dropped 6.37% while Santos declined 5.47%. Over in Japan, Inpex slipped 3.07%.

VIDEO4:5004:50
President Trump and first lady test positive for coronavirus

Japanese yen strengthens

The Japanese yen — often seen as a safe-haven currency — strengthened following Trump's announcement, last changing hands at 105.17 per dollar after an earlier low of 105.66 against the greenback.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 93.733 after touching an earlier high of 94.031.

The Australian dollar slipped to $0.716, following an earlier high of $0.7189.

Asia-Pacific markets decline

In Australia,  the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.39% to close at 5,791.50. Australia's retail sales data for August fell 4% on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data from the country's Bureau of Statistics. That followed a rise of 3.2% in July.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.67% on the day to 23,029.90 while the Topix index slipped 1% to close at 1,609.22. The Tokyo Stock Exchange returned to trade on Friday following a halting of trade yesterday caused by a hardware glitch.

Singapore's Straits Times index was about 0.2% lower, as of around 3:19 p.m. HK/SIN.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index dipped 0.23%.

Markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and India were closed on Friday for holidays.