Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
U.S. stock indexes settled mostly lower as coronavirus cases rose again and U.S. hospitalizations hit a new record. U.S. government bond yields fell, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note down to 0.92% recently.
The WSJ Dollar index rose strongly to 85.79. Oil prices continued to fall as hopes for demand returning to more normal levels faltered. Gold also fell for a second-straight day amid continued dollar strength.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.1% as Australian consumer confidence ended the year on a downbeat note, despite the spread of the Covid-19 cluster in Sydney showing signs of slowing. The energy was the benchmark index’s biggest loser.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as concerns about elevated Covid-19 infection levels and a new strain of the virus in Europe overshadowed Congress’ approval of a Covid-19 relief package.
The index of blue-chip stocks tumbled about 0.7% as of the 4 p.m. close of trading in New York. The S&P 500 dropped 0.2%, following three consecutive days of losses. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, in contrast, ticked up, rising 0.5%.
Much of the stock market has lost steam this week as some nations began taking steps to curtail travel in an effort to contain the emergence of a fast-spreading variant of coronavirus from England.
Gold futures logged their first consecutive losses in about two weeks, marking the steepest slide for the metal since early December, as a perkier U.S. dollar and an attempted rebound in equities kept the haven metal under selling pressure in the session.
February gold ended 0.6% lower to settle at $1,870.30 an ounce.
U.S. benchmark oil prices closed lower for a second straight session, ending down 2% at $47.02 a barrel.
The market has fallen more than $2 this week and is poised to end a holiday-shortened week sharply lower after seven straight weekly increases that were fueled partly by hopes that a coronavirus vaccine would return life, and demand for oil, back to normal.
Major currencies were weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.2255 to lows near US$1.2150 and was near US$1.2160 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US75.68 cents to lows near US75.17 cents and was near US75.25 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen eased from near 103.31 yen per US dollar to JPY103.72 and was near JPY103.65 at the US close.
European sharemarkets rebounded on Tuesday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lifted 1.2% with technology shares up 2.3%. The German Dax index gained 1.3%. The UK FTSE index climbed 0.6% as Brexit trade deal progress overshadowed virus concerns. Shares of Brexit-sensitive UK banks led gains with NatWest, Barclays and Lloyds up by 3.3%-3.6%. In London trade, shares of Rio Tinto and BHP both fell by 0.5%.
Earlier Tuesday, Hong Kong shares fell amid continuing Covid-19 concerns, with the Hang Seng Index closing 0.7% lower. Among the worst performers were casino operators.
Japanese shares also ended lower, dropping 1.0%, with electronics stocks falling especially sharply amid the renewed concerns about Covid-19 containment measures in Europe.