Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
U.S. tech stocks ended lower amid rising bond yields. The 10-year Treasury note yield rose 2.6 basis points to 1.35%, its highest in around a year. The WSJ Dollar Index was down 0.23% to 84.98. West Texas Intermediate oil hit a 13-month-high near $62. Gold prices surged above $1,800.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.2% lower, with the materials sector single-handedly stopping the benchmark from finishing even lower. In the absence of a clear lead from U.S. stocks, the index spent almost the whole session moving back and forth across the gain line in a narrow 25-point range.
The Nasdaq Composite finished lower, as rising bond yields and investor bets on an economic rebound later this year weighed on the shares of highflying technology stocks such as Apple and Microsoft.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 2.5%. The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.8%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained less than 0.1%. Tech giants whose shares were recently trading at records posted broad declines.
Gold futures climbed back above a key price around $1,800, with inflation concerns helping to lift prices to their highest settlement in over a week.
April gold rose $31, or 1.7%, to settle at $1,808.40 an ounce. Prices for the most-active contract settled at their loftiest since Feb. 12 and scored their biggest single-session dollar and percentage rise since early January, FactSet data show.
U.S. benchmark oil prices posted their biggest one-day gain in more than a month, and ended at their highest level in 13 months, with West Texas Intermediate finishing the session with a gain of 3.8% at $61.69 a barrel.
Investors are betting last week’s 40% drop in U.S. oil production due to a major winter storm in Texas will lead to massive declines in U.S. oil inventories, sending total U.S. crude-oil inventories into a rare and bullish deficit compared with the five-year average.
Major currencies were stronger against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro rose from lows near US$1.2090 to highs near US$1.2168 and was near US$1.2150 at the US close. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US78.55 cents to highs near US79.28 cents and was near US79.15 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen rose from 105.83 yen per US dollar to JPY104.98 yen and was near JPY105.10 at the US close.
European share markets fell on Monday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.4% with tech stocks down 1.9% and retail shares 1.3% lower. Eurozone bond yields fell after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the bank was monitoring rising borrowing costs. The German Dax index slid 0.3%, despite the lift in Germany’s Ifo Institute business climate index in February. The UK FTSE index shed 0.2% with London-listed shares in Rio Tinto down 0.5%, but BHP shares rose 0.4%.
The Nikkei Stock Average closed 0.5% higher, supported by aviation and shipping stocks. Japan’s vaccine rollout is in the spotlight following media reports that the country is mulling waiting lists to avoid wasting vaccines as it prepares to expand the scope of the inoculation program.
China’s major stock benchmarks fell, dragged by some of the most-heavily bought tourism and baijiu blue chips by mutual funds. The Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.45% lower, while the Shenzhen Composite Index shed 2.1% and the ChiNext Price Index lost 4.5%. Some analysts believe the pullback indicates an increasing divergence of outlooks among onshore mutual funds, which have concentrated their new positions on dozens of blue chips.