OPENING CALL: The Australian share market is to open lower.
U.S. stocks closed higher to start the new quarter. The 10-year Treasury note yield was 0.677%, unchanged from Wednesday. The WSJ Dollar Index was recently down 0.13% to 88.69.
Crude oil prices ended at their lowest levels in more than two weeks. Gold futures settled at their highest finish in nearly two weeks.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index ended the session up 1.0% at 5872.9, as data showed Australian house prices edged lower in September. In a reversal from sharp falls on Wednesday, all sectors ended in the green.
U.S. stocks edged slightly higher as investors tried to gauge the prospects of Washington passing an additional stimulus package to bolster the economy before next month’s election.
The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, following its best six-month performance since 2009. Despite a decline in September, the benchmark is up more than 35% over the past six months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average wavered between losses and gains and was recently up 0.1%. Both indexes pared earlier gains.
Gold futures reclaimed the $1,900 mark to post their highest finish in nearly two weeks, with analysts attributing the advance for the yellow metal to less than stellar economic data and traders hedging bets ahead of the important U.S. jobs report on Friday.
December gold rose $20.80, or 1.1%, to settle at $1,916.30 an ounce. Prices finished at their highest since Sept. 18 and were poised for a weekly rise of more than 2%.
Oil futures ended sharply lower, with prices logging their lowest settlement since mid-September, as worries about rising cases of COVID-19 worldwide fed expectations for a slowdown in energy demand.
West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery dropped $1.50, or 3.7%, to settle at $38.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following a 2.4% gain on Wednesday.
Major currencies were weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.1768 to lows near US$1.1722 and was near US$1.1745 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US72.07 cents to lows near US71.62 cents and was near US71.90 cents at the US close. The Japanese yen eased from 105.44 yen per US dollar to JPY105.73 and was near JPY105.55 at the US close.
European sharemarkets were mixed on Thursday. But the panEuropean STOXX 600 index rose 0.2%. Shares of Swedish retailer H&M climbed 6.1% after beating third-quarter forecasts. French-Italian chipmaker STMicro added 6.9% after an upbeat result, which sent German rival Infineon’s shares 7.6% higher. But Bayer shares slid 13.1% following a profit warning. The German Dax index fell 0.2%. But the UK FTSE index gained 0.2%. In London trade, shares of Rio Tinto fell by 0.2% while BHP fell by 0.5%.
Earlier in the day in Asia, the Tokyo Stock Exchange halted all stock trading for the session due to a system problem. After trading was halted for the morning session, the exchange said at midday that no trading would take place for the rest of the day.
Newspaper stock charts consisted simply of a series of dashes in place of prices. Mainland China’s major stock benchmarks began a weeklong holiday.