Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4%, rising for a third straight session after a late lift by the financial sector added to gains by tech and commodity stocks. The tech sector put on 1.9%, propelled by software firm WiseTech’s 28% jump. Materials added 1.4% despite weakness among gold stocks.
Stocks helped by the reopening, as well as some other cyclical stocks, led major U.S. stock indexes higher, pushing the stock market further into record territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1%, as of the 4 p.m. close of trading in New York. Goldman Sachs Group, American Express and Caterpillar all pulled the blue-chip benchmark higher. It was the same story in the S&P 500, which added 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2% amid minor gains for some technology stocks.
Stocks continued to enjoy a general upswing after U.S. regulators gave full approval for one of the Covid-19 vaccines, lifting hopes that more vaccines will be administered, bringing the country a step closer to eventually moving beyond the pandemic, analysts and investors said. The House’s narrow passage of a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that also locked in a September vote on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill helped to lift shares of manufacturers and materials firms.
Gold futures settled lower, with the sharpest daily drop in more than two weeks pulling prices back below the $1,800-an-ounce mark for the first time in three sessions.
Gold and silver prices were trading “on routine downside corrections after recent gains,” said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco.com.
December gold futures fell 1% to settle at $1,791 an ounce, losing their grip on the $1,800 level. Prices for the most active contract posted their biggest one-day percentage decline since Aug. 9, FactSet data show.
Oil futures continued higher, with prices scoring their longest stretch of daily gains so far this month on the heels of a third straight drop in U.S. crude inventories. “A tick higher in refinery runs and a tick lower in imports has yielded a third consecutive draw to crude inventories — dropping them to their lowest since late January 2020,” said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, in emailed commentary.
West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery rose 1.2% to settle at $68.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Front-month contract prices ended at their highest since Aug. 13, according to Dow Jones Market Data. October Brent crude, the global benchmark, added 1.7% to settle at $72.25 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the highest finish since Aug. 3.
Major currencies were mostly stronger against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro rose from lows near US$1.1726 to highs near US$1.1773 and was near US$1.1770 at the US close. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US72.37 cents to highs near US72.80 cents and was near US72.75 cents at the US close. But the Japanese yen eased from near 109.67 yen per US dollar to JPY110.12 and was near JPY110.00 at the US close.
European sharemarkets were mixed on Wednesday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was flat with shares of banks up by 1.8%, but utility stocks were down 0.8%. Germany’s Ifo institute business climate index fell from 100.7 to 99.4 in August (survey: 100.4). The German Dax index lost 0.3%, but the UK FTSE index gained 0.3%. London-listed shares in Rio Tinto (+0.2%) and BHP (+1.4%) both rose.
Earlier Wednesday, Chinese stocks climbed for a third straight session, supported by coal miners and new-energy sectors. Futures of coking coal, used in steel production, have surged on supply concerns, buoying sentiment on miners. Some property developers weighed on the market amid lingering regulatory worries. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7%, while the Shenzhen Composite Index and the ChiNext Price Index each gained 0.5%.
Hong Kong stocks, however, fell, after consecutive gains earlier in the week. The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.1%. Consumer companies led the declines. The Nikkei Stock Average closed flat as gains in steel and auto stocks helped offset losses in retail and chemical stocks. Meanwhile, the broader market index Topix gained 0.1%