OPENING CALL: The Australian share market is expected to open higher. The SPI futures contract expected to open 70 points up.
Applications for unemployment benefits were slightly below 1.5 million last week, at 1.48 million the Labor Department reported Thursday. While weekly totals have gradually eased from a late March peak of nearly 7 million, they also remain well above the prepandemic record of 695,000 in 1982.
U.S. stocks climbed, led by shares of banks, which rose on a regulator’s decision to ease some post-financial crisis requirements. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 298 points, or 1.2%, in a volatile session of trading that saw the index swing in and out of the red. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite mirrored the moves and were both recently up about 1.1%.
Gold futures tallied a second loss in a row, as some strength in the U.S. dollar put pressure on dollar-denominated prices for the metal, but a rise in new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and other countries, and the potential for another round of business
shutdowns to avoid the spread, kept gold prices higher for the week so far.
August gold fell $4.50, or nearly 0.3%, to settle at $1,770.60 an ounce, after declining 0.4% on Wednesday. Prices on Tuesday settled at the highest for a most-active contract since Oct. 4, 2012.
Crude-oil prices finished higher after posting two consecutive sessions of declines, but worries about the daily rate of increase in new coronavirus cases in the U.S. and other countries is taking a toll on expectations for demand for crude and keeping prices lower for the week.
West Texas Intermediate crude for August tacked on 71 cents, or 1.9%, to settle at $38.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following a nearly 5.9% decline on Wednesday, which marked its lowest finish for a front-month contract in a week.
European sharemarkets lifted on Thursday. Banks rose 1.6% after the European Central Bank said it would offer euro loans against collateral to central banks outside the euro area to backstop funding markets amid the virus pandemic. The pan-European
STOXX 600 and German Dax indexes both rose by 0.7%. Lufthansa shares surged 7.1% after shareholder backing for a bailout. The UK FTSE index rose by 0.4% with London-listed shares in Rio Tinto (+0.8%) and BHP (+1.1%) both up.
Earlier in the day in Asia, Japanese stocks fell, weighed by drops in auto and real-estate stocks amid continuing concerns about a slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.2% to 22259.79.
Markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong were closed for a public holiday. The Kospi Composite lost 2.3% in Seoul.