ASX to open flat, Wall Street jumps on COVID-19 vaccine developments

Australian shares are expected to open relatively flat despite Wall Street rising sharply higher on the back of COVID-19 vaccine developments and several multi-billion dollar deals.

ASX futures were down 4 points (or 0.1 per cent) by 6:30am AEST.

The Australian dollar had risen slightly (+0.1pc) to 72.9 US cents.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University resumed their late-stage trials on the weekend.

The trials of the experimental vaccine were briefly suspended last week following a reported side-effect in a British patient.

Also, Pfizer shares rose (+2.6pc) after the drugmaker and German biotech firm BioNTech proposed to expand their phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial to about 44,000 participants.

“The market reacts positively to any vaccine news,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

Oracle gained (+4.3pc) as the cloud computing company said it would team up with China’s ByteDance to keep TikTok operating in the United States, beating Microsoft in a deal structured as a partnership rather than an outright sale.

US markets had fallen for two straight weeks as investors sold heavyweight technology shares that had powered the benchmark index to record highs in a dramatic recovery from its March lows.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index jumped 1.9 per cent to 11,057 points.

The Dow Jones index lifted 328 points (or 1.2 per cent) to 27,993, while the S&P 500 added 1.3 per cent to 3,384.

Spot gold jumped (+0.9pc) to $US1,958 an ounce on a weaker US greenback.

Oil prices slipped slightly on concerns about a stalled global economic recovery as Libya is poised to resume production, and failed to get support from an impending storm that has disrupted US oil output.

Brent crude futures slipped (-0.5pc) to $US39.65 per barrel.

Later this week, investors will focus on the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting before the US Presidential election on November 3.

The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England announce their respective monetary policy decisions on Thursday.