The Australian share market looks set to open more than half a per cent higher with Wall Street’s Dow Jones and S&P500 offering a strong positive lead.
At 0700 AEDT on Friday, the share price futures index was up 36 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 5,950.
No major economic news is expected on Friday,
In equities news, Woolworths, Billabong, Southern Cross Media, Tassal and Regis Healthcare are among companies expected to release their results.
The Australian market on Thursday closed with a modest rise as big gains for Qantas, Crown Resorts and Nine Entertainment were partly offset by big ex-dividend retreats for AGL Energy and Woodside Petroleum.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 7.2 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 5,950.9 points.
The broader All Ordinaries index was up 10.4 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 6,057.7 points.
US stocks have advanced, putting major indexes on track to snap a recent spate of declines, buoyed by gains in industrial and energy shares as US Treasury yields eased.
The Dow and S&P dropped for a second consecutive session and the Nasdaq fell for a third straight on Wednesday after minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s January meeting showed the central bank’s rate-setting committee grew more confident in the need to keep raising rates.
Concerns about a faster pace of rate hikes from the central bank were eased by comments on Thursday from St Louis Fed President James Bullard that expressed concerns a “bunch of hikes” could turn Fed policy restrictive, and benchmark 10-year US Treasury yields retreated from the more than four-year highs hit on Wednesday.
Market participants are still largely expecting the Fed to raise rates three times this year.
Gold prices swung between small gains and losses before closing slightly higher, with investors still digesting minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting.
IRON ORE: $77.55 -0.30(March contract)
Oil futures turned higher after government data showed an unexpected drop in crude inventories last week.
The Energy Information Administration said crude-oil stocks fell by 1.616 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 16. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 1.9 million barrel rise.
The U.S. dollar fell intraday as optimism about the economy isn’t leading to bets that the Federal Reserve will accelerate its expected pace of rate increases.
The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which measures the currency against a basket of 16 others, fell 0.4% to 83.58. The greenback fell broadly, including declines against the euro, the yen and the British pound.
The dollar had rallied Wednesday after the minutes of the Fed’s Jan. 30-31 meeting showed that several officials believed the pace of economic growth was set to accelerate even after raising their projections at the central bank’s December meeting.
Some officials also appeared more certain that over the coming year inflation could head back to the 2% target set by policy makers after years of consistently lagging.
The Australian dollar is up almost half a cent against a weakened US counterpart.
At 0635 AEDT on Friday, the Australian dollar was worth 78.51 US cents, up from 78.08 US cents on Thursday.
European shares fell slightly on Thursday as a flurry of corporate results failed to lift sentiment after a new wave of speculation about faster hikes in US interest rates soured risk appetite globally.
An hour after the open, the publication of the German business confidence index, which fell more than expected in February, and a downward revision in UK economic growth cemented the gloom, although a rebound on Wall Street from losses in the previous day helped shares come off lows.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended down 0.2 per cent, having fallen as much as 1 per cent earlier in the session. The index remains down 5.7 per cent from the two-and-a-half year peak hit at the end of January.
Asia stocks were mixed, with Japan and Hong Kong’s key indexes falling, but China’s markets lifting on their first day of trading after the Lunar New Year holiday.
MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 0.98 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 1.07 per cent at 21,736.44.
Hong Kong stocks pulled back from a two-week high hit in the previous session as investors took profit from sectors such as tech and financials, although the decline was capped by inflows from mainland China.
The Hang Seng index closed down 466.21 points, or 1.48 per cent, at 30,965.68. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 1.25 per cent to 12,528.64.
China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 2.17 per cent at 3,268.56 points, while its blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 2.17 per cent at 4,52.73.
The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8 per cent, to 8266.88.