Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
Stocks wavered, pausing a recent market rally. The 10-year Treasury note yield ticked down to 1.132%. The WSJ Dollar Index was higher, up 0.02% to 85.29. U.S. oil prices logged their eighth-consecutive session of gains. Gold prices scored their fourth-straight gain.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5% higher with gains in nearly every sector.
U.S. stocks wavered, another sign that investors are taking a breather after pushing markets to record highs.
The major stock indexes, which drifted lower earlier in the day before recovering, were mixed as of the 4 p.m. close of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2%, the S&P 500 was flat, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3%. With nearly 70% of the S&P 500 already reporting fourth-quarter earnings, profits for the group are up 5.1%, better than an expected contraction of 9.2%, according to FactSet.
Gold futures scored a fourth-straight session gain, and platinum futures marked their highest finish in about six years, as investors assessed the prospects for precious and industrial metals amid an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gold for April delivery rose $5.20, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,842.70 an ounce, after marking on Tuesday the highest settlement for the most-active contract finish since Feb.
Oil futures climbed, with a nearly seven million-barrel weekly drop in U.S. crude supplies and expectations for another large round of government spending prompting prices to extend a winning streak that began at the start of February.
West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery rose 32 cents, or nearly 0.6%, to settle at $58.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. benchmark tallied an eight-consecutive session of gains, the longest streak of increases since the nine-session climb ended on Jan. 10, 2019, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Prices also logged their highest finish since Jan. 10, 2020. April Brent crude, the global benchmark, added 38 cents, or 0.6%, at $61.26 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, extending its winning streak to nine days in a row — also the longest since January 2019.
Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.2142 to lows near US$1.2112 and was near US$1.2120 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US77.55 cents to session lows near US77.20 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen eased from 104.41 yen per US dollar to JPY104.82 yen and was near JPY104.65 at the US close.
European share markets fell on Wednesday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed lower by 0.2%. The German Dax index slid 0.6% with Chancellor Angela Merkel set to announce that Germany will extend its coronavirus lockdown until March 14. The UK FTSE index lost just 0.1%, but London-listed shares of Rio Tinto (+2.6%) and BHP (+1.2%) both rose.
The Nikkei Stock Average ended 0.2% higher, reaching its highest close since August Gains were led by automakers which are mounting a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chinese stocks ended higher ahead of the country’s week-long Lunar New Year holidays. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.4%, extending a rally for the third straight day.
The Shenzhen Composite Index added 1.8%, while the ChiNext Price Index advanced 2.4%. Consumer-services providers and food-and-beverage stocks led the upturn.