Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
Stocks closed with weekly gains, setting records. The 10-year Treasury note yield rose 4.2 basis points to 1.199%, around its highest levels since March. The WSJ Dollar Index was 0.02% higher to 85.26. U.S. oil prices ended higher on Middle East tensions. Gold prices settled lower but registered their first weekly gain in three weeks.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.6%, finishing lower for the week after the country’s second-most populous state announced a five-day lockdown in response to a growing Covid-19 cluster. The benchmark index had nudged higher after an hour of trade but fell away on news of Victoria state’s lockdown.
Major U.S. stock indexes closed in record territory, despite ending the week with only muted gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added a modest 0.1% gain that was still enough to push it to a closing record. The S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite both traded to new records, with 0.5% gains on the day. The three indexes posted weekly gains of 1% to 1.7%.
Gold futures settled lower, pressured by strength in U.S. Treasury yields, although prices still registered their first weekly gain in three weeks.
Gold for April delivery fell 0.2%, to settle at $1,823.20 an ounce, following a 0.9% slide in the prior session. For the week, gold maintained a gain of around 0.6%, which was its first weekly climb since the week ended Jan. 22, according to FactSet data based on the most-active contract.
Oil futures got a boost from rising tensions between the Iran-backed Houthis rebels and Saudi Arabia, prompting prices for global benchmark crude to tally a gain of more than 5% for the week.
West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery tacked on 2.1%, to settle at $59.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, for a 4.6% weekly rise, according to Dow Jones Market Data. April Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 2.1%, to end at $62.66 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, leaving it up 5.2% for the week.
Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro held between US$1.2080 and US$1.2130 and was near US$1.2120 at the US close. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US77.17 cents to highs near US77.65 cents and was near US77.55 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen held between 104.75 yen per US dollar and JPY105.15 yen and was near JPY104.95 at the US close.
European sharemarkets rose on Friday. Leading the way were equipment maker, ASML Holding, and cosmetics company, L’Oréal, (both up 3%). Shares in ING Groep NV rose 6.7% after the largest Dutch bank reported better-than-expected quarterly pre-tax earnings. But shares in Volkswagen fell 0.7% after reporting a fall in deliveries. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose by 0.6%. The German Dax index lifted by 0.1%. The UK FTSE index rose by 0.9%. In London trade, shares in Rio Tinto rose by 0.4% and shares in BHP rose by 0.6%.
The Nikkei Stock Average closed 0.1% lower as the Lunar New Year holiday in most of Asia region dampened trading activity.
Markets in China were shut for new-year celebrations.
Elsewhere, New Zealand’s NZX-50 index slid 1.3% as power utilities sank on selling by passive funds. The index lost 3.6% for the week.