Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
Stocks turned lower as investors eyed stimulus talks. The 10-year Treasury note yield ticked up to 0.949%, from 0.913% on Tuesday. The WSJ Dollar Index recently was 0.06% higher at 86.01. U.S. crude oil prices ended lower after the biggest weekly supply rise since April. Gold prices fell to their lowest finish in a week.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.6%, closing at its best level in nearly 10 months after consumer sentiment jumped to a 10-year high. Healthcare led as 10 of 12 sectors lifted, pushing the benchmark index to its highest close since Feb. 25.
U.S. stocks dropped as investors watched the congressional back-and-forth on fresh fiscal stimulus spending.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4% as of the 4 p.m. close of trading in New York. The S&P 500 slipped 0.8% a day after the benchmark notched its 30th record close for this year. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.9%.
Gold futures settled lower, posting their first loss in three sessions and marking their lowest finish in a week, weighed down by strength in the U.S. dollar, as investors awaited further progress toward a new Covid-19 relief package in Congress and the U.S. vaccine rollout.
February gold declined $36.40, or 1.9%, to settle at $1,838.50 an ounce, after rising 0.5% on Tuesday, marking the highest settlement for a most-active contract since Nov. 17, according to FactSet data. Prices settled at their lowest since Dec. 2.
Oil futures ended on a mixed note, with global prices up slightly but U.S. benchmark crude posting a loss on the back of the biggest weekly increase in domestic crude supplies since April that was seen as due to a possible to “one-off” rise in imports.
West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery fell 8 cents, or 0.2%, to settle at $45.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the lowest front-month contract finish since Dec. 2, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Major currencies were weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.2145 to lows near US$1.2060 and was near US$1.2080 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US74.83 cents to lows near US74.23 cents and was near US74.40 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen eased from near 104.05 yen per US dollar to JPY104.39 and was near JPY104.20 at the US close.
European sharemarkets rose on Wednesday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index climbed 0.3% with autos up 1.3%. Germany’s Dax index lifted 0.5%. The UK FTSE index gained 0.1% as the British pound firmed ahead of Brexit talks between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday evening. In London trade, shares in Rio Tinto (-1.4%) and BHP (-0.5%) both fell.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average ended higher, supported by gains in auto and electronics stocks on growing hopes that Covid-19 vaccines will ease the pandemic. The Nikkei Stock Average added 1.3%, setting the highest closing level since April 1991.
China’s major stock benchmarks ended lower as some previously bullish sectors fell sharply. The Shanghai Composite Index was 1.1% lower, the Shenzhen Composite Index shed 1.9% and the ChiNext Price Index was off 1.8%.