Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
U.S. stocks closed higher, with the Dow Industrials at an all-time high. The 10-year Treasury note yield fell 0.8 basis point to 0.93%, its lowest in a week. The WSJ Dollar Index recently was down at 84.86. Crude oil prices ended a choppy session with gains. Gold prices ended up near $1,900.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.3% as a weak showing on Wall Street weighed on the appetite for stocks. There was little company-specific news to drive direction amid thin, year-end trading. Utilities and tech stocks posted the biggest falls, with sub-indexes for those sectors both dropping 1.6%.
U.S. equity markets booked modest gains, with investors buying energy and materials stocks in the second-to-last day of 2020 for Wall Street.
The modest gains were sufficient to help the Dow Jones Industrial Average rise 0.2% to a new closing record, while the S&P 500 gained 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.2%.
Gold futures settled solidly higher as precious metals traded against a backdrop of a weaker U.S. dollar and steady benchmark government bond yields.
February gold traded $10.50, or 0.6%, higher to settle at $1,893.40 an ounce, following a 0.1% gain on Tuesday.
Oil futures ended higher after fluctuating between gains and losses as data showed a larger-than-expected drop in crude inventories last week.
West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery rose 40 cents, or 0.8%, to close at $48.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Major currencies were firmer against the US dollar in European and US trade with the US dollar index at the lowest levels since April 2018. The Euro rose from lows near US$1.2255 to highs near US$1.2305 and was near US$1.2295 at the US close. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US76.45 cents to highs near US76.85 cents and was near US76.80 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen held between 102.95 yen per US dollar and JPY103.40 and was near JPY103.25 at the US close.
European sharemarkets eased on Wednesday. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell for the first time in six sessions, down 0.3% from 10-month highs. Banks lost 0.3% but travel and leisure rose 0.2% on optimism about the outlook given the rollout of vaccines. The UK FTSE fell by 0.7% while the German Dax index lost 0.3% in its last trading session of 2021. In London trade shares in Rio Tinto fell by 1.7% and shares in BHP lost 0.7% in response to a lower iron ore price.
Japanese stocks ended lower, weighed by falls in pharmaceutical and e-commerce stocks, a day after the benchmark Nikkei Stock Average rose to a 30-year high. The Nikkei declined by 0.4%. The index has gained 16% in 2020.
China’s major stock benchmarks closed higher. The Shanghai Composite Index ended 1.0% higher, the Shenzhen Composite Index was 1.3% higher and the ChiNext Price Index ended 3.1% higher.