Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
U.S. stocks rose, with the Dow industrials and Nasdaq at record highs. The 10-year Treasury note yield was at 1.293% compared with 1.301% on Wednesday. The WSJ Dollar Index fell 0.25% to 86.97. U.S. oil prices climbed more than 2%, buoyed by a drop in U.S. supplies. Gold futures logged back-to-back losses.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.55% lower, paring early losses for a second consecutive session. The benchmark fell 1.2% in the first hour as market heavyweights CSL, BHP and Woolworths traded ex-dividend, but steadily ground higher amid gains by energy and tech stocks. The materials sector lost 2.5%. The ASX 200 is flat so far this week.
U.S. stocks rose after fresh data on the labour market and the trade balance showed that the economic recovery remains on track. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%. The S&P 500 added 0.3%, setting a record high. The Nasdaq Composite, which set its own record high, was up about 0.1% as large technology stocks extended their gains. Stocks have pushed higher this week as investors weighed strong corporate earnings and low interest rates against indicators that growth may be slowing in some parts of the world.
Gold futures logged a back-to-back loss, failing to find support even with the dollar and bonds yields edging down, as investors looked to August U.S. employment data due Friday to determine the path forward for the Federal Reserve and bullion. December gold fell nearly 0.3% to settle at $1,811.50 an ounce, following a decline of 0.1% on Wednesday. Prices are trading around 0.4% lower week to date.
Oil futures traded sharply higher, with U.S. prices topping $70 a barrel for the first time in nearly a month, supported by recent data showing a sharp drop in U.S. crude inventories. Prices moved up despite a decision by a group of global oil producers to make no changes to their plan to gradually increase crude production.
West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery rose 2.8% at $70.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Front-month prices for the U.S. benchmark haven’t touched intraday highs above $70 since Aug. 6, FactSet data show. Global benchmark November Brent crude added 2.5% to $73.40 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
Major currencies were stronger against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro rose from lows near US$1.1837 to session highs near US$1.1875 at the US close. The Aussie dollar lifted from lows near US73.76 cents to highs near US74.07 cents and was near US74.00 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen firmed from near 110.08 yen per US dollar to JPY109.92 and was near JPY109.95 at the US close.
European share markets closed higher on Thursday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose by 0.3% with oil shares up by 1.8%. Shares of Swedish drugmaker SOBI soared 25.8% on a takeover offer from Advent International and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC. The German Dax index added 0.1% and the UK FTSE index gained 0.2%. In London trade shares in Rio Tinto lifted 1.4%, but BHP shares fell by 5.6% after trading ex-dividend.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed 0.3% higher, helped by gains in shares of chemical manufacturers. The gains were also supported by comments from Bank of Japan’s board member Goushi Kataoka, who stressed the Bank of Japan’s readiness to ramp up stimulus if needed, Oanda said.
Chinese stocks ended the session mixed, as coal miners resumed a sharp upturn while software companies weakened. Coal futures contracts have surged amid constrained supply and elevated demand for electricity, buoying sentiment for miners. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8%, climbing for the fifth-straight session. The Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.4% and the ChiNext Price Index fell 1.5%.