Australian shares fell, after two days of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 slipped
about 0.3% to 6696.5. Industrials led the decline, dropping nearly 0.8%, real-estate
stocks shed 0.7% and information-technology shares also fell nearly 0.7%. Investors
weren’t impressed with FY19 preliminary results from aerial-imagery company Nearmap,
whose shares fell about 9.5% in Friday trade, making it the worst performer in the
benchmark index. Despite Friday’s fall, the Aussie index is up nearly 19% so far this
U.S. stocks climbed after major central banks set the stage for looser monetary policy.
Major indexes are up more than 2% in July, adding to huge gains in June, even as
worries about the broader U.S. economy continue. This week provided another jolt to the
market as comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell appeared to all but
guarantee the central bank could cut interest rates as soon as later this month, some
analysts said. This sparked a wave of money into U.S. stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 243.95 points, or 0.9%, a day after the benchmark
gauge topped 27000 for the first time. The S&P 500 gained 0.5%, closing above 3000.
Though the index had breached the 3000 level during the trading session the past two
days, it had yet to close above that level.
The Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.6%, its gains tempered by weakness in biotechnology
firms. Earlier, the Nasdaq Biotechnology index declined 1.4% in recent trading. Shares of
Illumina, the maker of gene-sequencing machines, plummeted 16% after the San Diego
company lowered expectations for second-quarter revenue.
Gold futures climbed, contributing to a gain of nearly 1% for the week as remarks from
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell this week fed expectations for an interest-rate
cut later this month.
August gold rose $5.50, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,412.20 on Comex, gaining roughly 0.9%
for the week, FactSet data show. Prices have held ground above $1,400 each session since
they settled at a more than six-year high at $1,420.90 on July 3.
Oil futures climbed for the week as tensions persist in the Middle East, but prices
posted only a small gain for the session, with a Gulf of Mexico storm expected to cause
only a brief reduction in the region’s oil and natural-gas production.
Oil’s overall gains for the week have been fueled in part by falling U.S. inventories
which have come down over the past four weeks. The market has managed to climb even
though investors pondered more signs that global supply will remain plentiful as the U.S.
competes with OPEC, and against the backdrop of a less-than-robust demand scenario.
August West Texas Intermediate crude tacked on a penny to settle at $60.21 a barrel on
the New York Mercantile Exchange-ending the week 4.7% higher. It wrapped Wednesday at
$60.43, the highest settlement for front-month WTI prices since May 22 as part of a
string of gains that only paused on Thursday.
The WSJ Dollar Index fell 0.3% to a recent 89.90 as investors shied away from the
currency after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent signals that the central bank
will cut interest rates at its meeting later this month.
Lower interest rates typically make currencies less attractive because they offer a
lower rate of return.
The dollar remains in the middle of its 52-week range, supported by signs that the
European Central Bank will also cut interest rates following two rate reductions by the
Reserve Bank of Australia earlier this year.
European stocks ended mixed, even as Wall Street continues to benefit from positive
vibes about a potential U.S. interest-rate cut. The FTSE 100 falls 0.04% and the DAX,
which has been hit by declines for the likes of BASF and Deutsche Bank this week, drops
0.08% after downbeat Chinese trade data. Still, France’s CAC-40 is up 0.3% and the Stoxx
Europe 600 gains 0.02%.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4% and Japan’s Nikkei ticked up 0.2%. Investors
were digesting an official report from China that showed its exports gained by 6.1% in
the first half of the year.
India’s benchmark share index closes 0.2% lower Friday, dragged by some auto makers and
financial-services firms, with 17 of its 30 constituents ending lower. Bajaj Finance and
ONGC were the biggest losers, each down 2.1%. Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank closed
0.6% and 1.5% lower, respectively.
Singapore’s benchmark index closed 0.2% higher at 3357.34, in line with slight gains in
other Asian markets.
Malaysia’s benchmark share index closes lower, weighed by declines in bluechips amid a
general weak sentiment.