Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6%, its highest close in almost a year. Materials were the strongest performing sector, rising 2.0%, while financial stocks added 0.3%. The ASX 200 is 3.9% away from its record close 7162.5 of Feb. 20, 2020.
Stocks rose toward records as investors wagered that a new round of stimulus spending would bolster the economy.
The S&P 500 gained 0.7%, continuing to advance after the broad-based index posted its biggest one-week advance since November and closed Friday at an all-time high. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced nearly 1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.8%.
All three indexes finished at records. The combination of strong quarterly earnings reports from some of the biggest U.S. companies and the possibility of more relief for the economy has given markets a shot in the arm, according to Daniel Morris, the chief market strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management.
Gold futures settled higher, extending their gains to a second session, as prices continued to rebound from a recent drop to a two-month low.
Gold for April delivery rose $21.20, or 1.2%, to settle at $1,834.20 an ounce on Comex. Meanwhile, March silver gained 55.7 cents, or 2.1%, to settle at $27.576 an ounce following a volatile trading week that ended with prices up by just about 0.4%.
Brent crude prices settled above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than a year, boosted by pandemic-recovery optimism and expectations for the passage of the latest U.S. economic stimulus package.
April Brent crude, the global benchmark, climbed by $1.22, or 2.1%, to settle at $60.59 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery rose $1.12, or 2%, to settle at $57.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest since Jan. 21, 2020.
Major currencies were stronger against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro rose from lows near US$1.2019 to highs near US$1.2063 and was near US$1.2050 at the US close. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US76.51 cents to highs near US77.13 cents and was near US77.05 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen rose from 105.66 yen per US dollar to JPY105.14 yen and was near JPY105.20 at the US close.
European sharemarkets rose on Monday with the pan-European STOXX 600 index closing higher by 0.3%. Dialogue Semiconductor shares jumped 16% after the company agreed to be acquired by Renesas Electronics. Italy’s FTSE MIB index rose 1.5% as Mario Draghi set about forming a new Italian government. The German Dax index rose by less than 0.1% with German industrial production flat in December (survey: +0.3%). The UK FTSE index climbed 0.5% with London-listed shares in Rio Tinto (+2.5%) and BHP (+2.4%) both up.
Japanese stocks ended higher, with the Nikkei Stock Average up 2.1%, extending early gains that pushed it above 29000 for the first time since August 1990 on expectations for an earnings recovery and U.S. fiscal stimulus cheer. Steel stocks led the session’s gains.
Mainland China’s major stock benchmarks posted gains as indexes in Asia mostly climbed. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.0%, breaking its losing streak of the past three consecutive sessions. The Shenzhen Composite Index was up 1.2%, while the ChiNext Price Index, a measure for emerging industries and startups, gained 2.6%.