Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.6% higher despite data showing that the country’s jobs market cratered amid Covid-19 lockdowns. The benchmark followed U.S. stocks higher, wiping out the previous day’s losses and moving 0.7% higher for the week. The energy sector was again at the forefront of the price action, rising 1.3% amid higher oil prices. The health sector added 0.9%.
U.S. stocks mostly fell as investors weighed mixed signals in the latest U.S. economic data and a stock-market pullback in China. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both slipped 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.1%. Earlier in the session, the Dow industrials had been down more than 200 points for the day.
New data added to the cloudy forecast for the economy. The number of Americans who applied for first-time unemployment benefits rose in the week ended Sept. 11 to 332,000, up from 312,000 in the week prior. The U.S. trading session followed another day of losses in China and Hong Kong, where indexes were hit by gathering fears around an economic slowdown and debt problems with giant property developer China Evergrande Group.
Gold futures suffered back-to-back losses and the sharpest daily decline in bullion in almost six weeks as the dollar and Treasury yields popped higher following data showing a rise in U.S. retail sales last month.
Gold for December delivery fell 2.1% to settle at $1,756.70 an ounce, which was the steepest daily percentage and dollar decline for bullion since Aug. 6, when it fell. Gold “experienced a quick and sudden chain reaction,” as robust economic data exceeded expectations by a lot, said Jeff Wright, chief investment officer at Wolfpack Capital.
Oil futures shook off early losses, with U.S. prices taking a breather after a four-day winning streak to settle unchanged for the session, while the global crude benchmark eked out a fresh finish at the highest in about seven weeks. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled flat at $72.61 a barrel. That was the same price it settled at on Wednesday, which marked the highest finish since July 30, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
November Brent crude, the global benchmark, climbed 0.3% to $75.67 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, ending the session at the highest since late July. Crude has found support from a near-term tightening of supplies, amplified by the slow recovery in production in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida, which made landfall on the Louisiana Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.
Major currencies were weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.1805 to lows near US$1.1749 and was near US$1.1765 at the US close. The Aussie dollar eased from highs near US73.23 cents to lows near US72.74 cents and was near US72.95 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen fell from 109.22 yen per US dollar to JPY109.82 and was near JPY109.70 at the US close.
European sharemarkets climbed on Thursday with the pan-European Stoxx 600 index up by 0.4%, bouncing off a six-week closing low hit in the previous session. Travel and leisure stocks lifted 3.4% after discount airline Ryanair (+7.9%) raised its long-term traffic forecast. The German Dax and the UK FTSE indexes both rose by 0.2%. In London trade, shares in Rio Tinto shed 4.0% and shares in BHP lost 3.4%.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average ended 0.6% lower, dragged by declines in electronics, shipping, and brokerage stocks that led to the recent surge. Chinese stocks closed the day lower, weighed by electric vehicle makers amid heightened regulatory scrutiny after an official called for consolidation in the market earlier this week. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.3%, continuing to weaken after last week’s rally. The Shenzhen Composite Index fell 2.0% and the ChiNext Price Index declined 2.2%.