Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed flat, rising just 1.7 points, as losses among energy and consumer-related stocks pared gains. The energy sector was the biggest loser, dropping 1.4%, while the heavyweight financial sector edged 0.3% higher.
The S&P 500 edged ahead to a new closing record, as investors parsed another batch of earnings reports and new data on the labour market. The S&P 500 hovered near the flatline for much of the day but traded up 0.3% at 4 p.m. ET, its seventh consecutive rise. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.6%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had also neared a record on Wednesday, ticked down less than 0.1%. “The craziest thing about what I see going on in markets is just an absolute tug of war between growth and value investments,” said Jeff Powell, managing partner and chief investment officer at Polaris Wealth Advisory Group. “I’ve not seen a market like this in a really long time.”Stocks have risen in recent days after solid earnings helped quell concerns that sent markets lower at the start of the fall. Among those worries: A slowdown in China’s economy, supply-chain blockages that have hampered sectors such as manufacturing, and inflation pressures.
Gold futures also dropped, on the heels of a two-session climb, as investors took a step back from buying that has been supported by concerns over a rise in inflation. “The inflation bug has been spreading with the growing problems with shortages and some big moves in commodities and energy prices,” said Peter Spina, president and chief executive officer at GoldSeek.com. “The cost of free money is inflation and the market is now growingly fearful of inflation and less so of a taper.”The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting in early November is “unlikely to result in a tapering, but their strong language about tapering may be a headwind for gold,” Mr Spina said. That’s what’s likely to dominate trading in the coming week, he said. December gold futures fell 0.2% to settle at $1,781.90 an ounce.
Oil futures pulled back from multiyear highs, with analysts citing profit-taking. “While some projections are as bullish as $100, current price levels already start feeling high for traders, who always have the itch to reap profits from the rising prices,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, in a note.
“Traders who had set $86 as their selling threshold took the opportunity to already pocket some profit and oil prices took a dive as a result,” she said. West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery was down 1.3% to settle at $82.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after the November contract expired Wednesday at a seven-year high. December Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell 1.2% to settle at $84.81 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, after finishing Wednesday at its highest since October 2018.
Major currencies were mostly weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.1656 to session lows near US$1.1620 at the US close. The Aussie dollar
eased from highs near US75.10 cents to lows near US74.57 cents and was near US74.65 cents at the US close. But the Japanese yen rose from 114.19 yen per US dollar to JPY113.66 and was near the JPY114.00 at the US close.
European share markets closed lower on Thursday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell by 0.1%. Shares of China-exposed European miners dropped 3% after the collapse of a US$2.6 billion
asset sale at indebted developer China Evergrande Group. The German Dax index slid 0.3%. And the UK FTSE index lost 0.5%, despite strong earnings from Barclays (-0.8%). In London trade shares in Rio Tinto (-4.8%) and BHP (-3.7%) both fell.
Earlier Thursday, China stocks ended the session mixed, as a range-bound trading pattern continued in the market. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2%, while the Shenzhen Composite Index fell 0.2%. The ChiNext Price Index, a measure for emerging industries and startups, also shed 0.2%. Coal miners were among the top gainers, as the sector rebounded from earlier losses. This uptrend was offset by weakness in telecom equipment makers.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.5%, as analysts warned of profit-taking pressure after substantial gains in previous sessions. Exporters led the downturn, as the sector retreated from its recent strength. Japanese shares settled broadly lower amid continued concerns about higher costs of borrowing and raw materials. Chip-related stocks fell especially hard due in part to worries about slower demand growth as economies reopen. The Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.9%. Investors remained focused on any policy-related developments ahead of Japan’s lower-house election later this month.