Australia’s stock index had a positive day after hitting 21-month lows yesterday. The S&P/ASX 200 rebounded into the close yesterday and saw that move extended today, closing up 0.9% at 5691.3 to break a four day losing streak. The health-care sector jumped a further 2.7%, moving into positive territory for the week. Consumer staples advanced 1.3% and most others saw gains of nearly 1%. But consumer discretionary rose just 0.2%.
U.S. markets were closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Metals prices were mixed, with trading volumes lower than usual as the U.S. celebrated its Thanksgiving public holiday. The price of copper was down 0.2% at $6,221 a metric ton in midmorning trading. Gold, meanwhile was up 0.14% at $1,227.71 a troy ounce, with the U.S. dollar edging lower. The precious metal and the U.S. currency tend to move in opposite directions, and the WSJ Dollar Index was last down 0.1%. Copper futures have fallen 14% in 2018, largely driven down by the trade row between the U.S. and China. With China accounting for around half of global copper demand, investors have been concerned about the impact of those tensions on economic growth in the world’s second largest economy. Citi’s China Copper End-Use Tracker, an indicator of copper consumption, ticked down 0.1% in October, “a bleak reading and only the third negative print since October 2015,” according to analysts at the bank. Supply has also risen, with the International Copper Study Group reporting a 3% year-over-year rise in copper mine output for the first eight months of the year. But underlying demand has also remained resilient. London Metal Exchange stocks have ground roughly 20% lower since Nov. 2, with local premiums in the U.S. having climbed. Copper inventories have fallen in other regions too, with LME, New York, and Shanghai combined stocks now at a two-year low of 407,000 tons, according to ING strategists in a note. When global copper-trading volumes return to normal next week, investors will turn their focus to the prospective meeting between President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of the month. The slated summit between European and U.K. leaders to discuss a potential Brexit deal will also be of interest, as will upcoming Federal Reserve board member speeches. Among precious metals, silver was up 0.07% at $14.51 a troy ounce, palladium was down 0.12% at $1,151.10 a troy ounce and platinum was down 0.06% at $845.50 a troy ounce.
IRON ORE: 70.63s + 0.57 (December contract)
Oil prices wobbled, but clawed back losses from earlier in the session on jitters over U.S. supply data in a session thinned out by the Thanksgiving Day holiday. From a drop of over 1% at one point, January West Texas Intermediate crude CLF9, -1.10% fell 16 cents, or 0.3%, to $54.55 a barrel. The contract rose nearly 2.3% on Wednesday, after losing 6.6% Tuesday to settle at a more than one\ year low of $53.43. For the week so far, WTI is down 3.8%. Global benchmark January Brent turned higher from a loss of over 1% earlier, gaining 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $63.59 a barrel, after closing up 1.5% on Wednesday. Its finish at $62.53 Tuesday was the lowest settlement since February.
The British pound rose to $1.2872 from $1.2776 late Wednesday in New York. The euro rose to $1.1406, versus 1.1385 late Wednesday. Sterling surged on news that European Union and U.K. negotiators reached a deal on the outlines of future U.K.-EU ties, a feat that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to use to rally much-needed domestic support for her Brexit deal. The announcement comes ahead of an official EU summit on Sunday in which leaders are expected to sign off on that draft text.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index ended down 0.7% at 352.57, with concerns about Italy’s budget situation ensuring that equity sentiment remains negative, as U.S. markets are closed for Thanksgiving. Worries about Brexit uncertainty and the prospect of further selloffs in U.S. tech stocks also weigh on investors’ minds. U.K. utility company Centrica is the biggest faller, down 9.2% after it warned of a hit to earnings. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 underperforms other European equities, ending down 1.3%, partly as a result of a stronger pound. Germany’s DAX ends down 0.9%, France’s CAC 40 down 0.8%, Italy’s FTSE MIB down 0.7% and Spain’s IBEX 35 down 0.6%.
Asian stock markets logged a mixed session on Thursday, struggling for direction in thin action ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Japan’s Nikkei finished up 0.6%, but banks were under pressure, with Mitsubishi UFJ down 1.4% and Sumitomo Mitsui eased 0.2%. On the positive side, beer maker Sapporo Holdings surged 7% . Hong Kong stocks trimmed an early solid lead, with losses for Chinese wireless firms. The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.2%, with China Mobile and Unicom both posting modest drops. Energy shares were again lower, while Tencent gained over 1%. The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.2%, and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite lost 0.6%.