Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
U.S. stocks closed higher, with the Dow industrials and S&P 500 at all-time highs. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 0.913%, compared with 0.926% Wednesday. The WSJ Dollar Index recently was higher at 84.97. Crude oil prices ended higher to post a weekly gain. Gold prices ended with a slight gain and notched the sharpest annual rise in a decade.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 1.4% in a shortened final session. It was a sour end following a choppy nine-month recovery from March’s pandemic-related dive and resulted in a 1.5% annual loss for the S&P/ASX 200 versus 2019’s 18% gain.
U.S. stocks spent the final session of the most tumultuous year in recent memory doing something rare for 2020: trading very quietly.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7%. The S&P 500 added 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.1%. The blue-chip index and S&P 500 both settled at records. Trading volumes eased this week with many people taking year-end holidays.
The Nikkei was closed in observance of the New Year’s holiday.
Gold futures closed out the year with a slight gain, in a holiday-shortened week that wrapped up a tumultuous, viral-stricken 2020 for financial markets.
February gold rose $1.70, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $1,895.10 an ounce.
U.S. benchmark oil prices erased earlier declines in the session’s final minutes to close 0.2% higher at $48.52 a barrel and notch its eighth weekly increase in the past nine weeks.
West Texas Intermediate ended the year 21% lower, the biggest one-year percentage decline since year-end 2018. Despite 2020’s full-year-drop, the benchmark has risen the past three quarters.
Major currencies eased from highs against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.2300 to lows near US$1.2205 and was near US$1.2210 just after the US
close. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US77.40 cents to lows near US76.95 cents and was near US77.05 cents just after the US close. And the Japanese yen held between 102.98 yen per US dollar and JPY103.29 and was near JPY103.20 just after the US close. The US dollar index fell 6.8% over 2020 and is near the lowest levels since April 2018. The Aussie dollar rose 9.9% against the US dollar over 2020.
European sharemarkets eased on Thursday in response to higher US tariffs on European Union goods. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell by 0.3%. The UK FTSE fell by 1.5%. The German Dax index was closed after falling 0.3% on Wednesday. In London trade shares in Rio Tinto fell by 1.3% and shares in BHP lost 1.8%. Over 2020, the STOXX600 index fell 3.7%; the UK FTSE fell 14.3%; and the German Dax rose 3.5%.
Chinese stocks ended higher in the last trading day of the year. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.7%, its largest one-day gain in 30 days.
The Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.8%, while the ChiNext Price Index climbed the most, ending 2.3% higher.