Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
The S&P 500 ended lower on stimulus worries, with the Dow industrials posting a modest gain. The 10-year Treasury note yield fell 1.5 basis points to 0.892%, leaving the benchmark down 7.5 basis points for the week, its largest such decline since June. The WSJ Dollar Index was up 0.18% to 85.94. Crude oil prices ended lower on doubts about a recovery in demand. Gold prices ended with again for the week as U.S. fiscal and Brexit risks rose.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.6% lower but still managed to rack up a sixth consecutive weekly gain. Financial, consumer and health stocks dragged the benchmark index lower.
The ASX 200 rose 0.1% over the week. Its weekly gains have declined with each passing week of its winning run.
The S&P 500 slipped as talks on a Covid-19 relief package faced setbacks, and fresh business restrictions were unveiled.
The broad index fell 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2%.
Gold futures settled higher to tally a gain for the week as investors in the precious metal responded to the risk of fiscal deadlock in Washington, the possibility of a Brexit without a European Union trade deal, and some signs of U.S. inflation in commodity prices.
February gold rose $6.20, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,843.60 an ounce, following a nearly 0.1% fall for bullion on Thursday to mark the lowest finish for a most-active contract since Dec. 2, according to FactSet data.
Oil futures settled lower but notched a weekly gain as investors took their cue from progress on the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines which may help the economic recovery.
West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery fell by 21 cents, or nearly 0.5%, to settle at $46.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
February Brent crude lost 28 cents, or 0.6%, at $49.97 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, settling below the key level of $50 after breaching it this week for the first time since March.
Major currencies were mostly weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.2161 to lows near US$1.2104 and was near US$1.2111 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US75.68 cents to lows near US75.20 cents and was near US75.33 cents at the US close. But the Japanese yen rose from near 104.13 yen per US dollar to JPY103.82 and was near JPY104.01 at the US close.
European sharemarkets closed lower on Friday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.8% and was down 1% over the week. Shares of drugmaker Sanofi slid 4% after it said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed an insufficient immune response in clinical trials. The German Dax index lost 1.4% and the UK FTSE index shed 0.8% on worries over a no-deal Brexit. In London trade, shares in Rio Tinto rose by 0.4% with BHP up by 0.6%.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average ended down 0.4%, weighed by real estate and shipping stocks. Coronavirus-related developments in Japan, as well as the country’s carbon-neutral and digitization policies, will likely continue to be closely watched by the market.
China’s major stock benchmarks closed lower as most component sectors ended lower. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.8%, the Shenzhen Composite Index shed 1.3%, and the ChiNext Price Index slipped 1.1%.