Amid the week’s political strife which led to a new prime minister, Australian stocks logged slight gains after three-straight days of declines and a fade into the close. The S&P/ASX 200 finished up 2.9 points at 6247.3, capping a 1.4% drop for the week. The market got a midday bounce on Treasurer Morrison’s selection to lead the government into the upcoming elections. The gain came even as financials fell further, another 0.5% to put the week’s skid at 4.5%. But unlike recent days, the rest of the market was able to more than offset that. Health care jumped 2.1%, hitting record highs again, and consumer names rose more than 1%. That as the Aussie dollar bounced on the PM change, trimming some of this week’s drop versus some major currencies.
The S&P 500 rose to a fresh high, bringing to an end its longest streak without a record in two years and affirming the bull market’s longevity. Major indexes had drifted between small gains and losses over the course of the week, with the S&P 500 quietly notching the milestone of the longest-ever U.S. bull market Wednesday but finishing just shy of setting a new record close. But stocks got a jolt Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made his debut at the central bank’s annual Jackson Hole retreat. Mr. Powell’s message largely reassured investors: signaling that even as the U.S. economy looks strong, the central bank plans on sticking to a gradual course of interest-rate increases. That, along with a mostly upbeat week for earnings, helped stocks keep grinding higher, allowing the S&P 500 to effectively confirm the bull market’s status as the longest such run in history. The Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 also finished the week at fresh highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 133.37 points, or 0.5%, to 25790.35. The S&P 500 rose 17.71 points, or 0.6%, to 2874.69 and the Nasdaq advanced 67.52 points, or 0.9%, to 7945.98. For the week, the Dow industrials were up 0.5%, while the S&P 500 was up 0.9% and the Nasdaq rose 1.7%. Corporate earnings drove swings in individual stocks throughout the week.
Metals prices have recorded their best week in months, unwinding some of the damage from the previous week’s rout. Copper for August delivery climbed 1.75% to $2.699 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, helped along by a softer U.S. dollar. Gold for August delivery was also higher, rising 1.6%, or $19.30, to $1,206.30 a troy ounce. Friday’s gains capped a strong week for both metals. Gold jumped 2.5% over the week, snapping a six-week losing streak in what was its best weekly performance since March, while copper was up 2.8% for the period.
IRON ORE: 66.71s + 0.54 (September contract)
Oil prices climbed to post their best week since June, with traders looking ahead to updates on supply and U.S. sanctions against Iran. Light, sweet crude for October delivery rose 89 cents, or 1.3%, to $68.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices added 5.4% this week, rising after a bullish inventory report showed a larger than-expected drop in U.S. stockpiles and with uncertainty still surrounding sanctions against Iran. Brent crude, the global benchmark, added $1.09, or 1.5%, to $75.82 a barrel Friday. President Trump in May pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear efforts, triggering the reimposition of economic sanctions and raising the prospect of a reduction of more than 1 million barrels a day of Iranian crude oil exports by November. U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said earlier this week that the Trump administration would like to avoid giving waivers to the sanctions. The possibility of supply disruptions in Iran and lower production in countries like Venezuela and Libya had pushed oil prices to multiyear highs earlier this year before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and partner producers such as Russia decided to begin ramping up crude output. U.S. prices are still 7.3% below their June peak, but some analysts think signs that higher production from Saudi Arabia and other large suppliers won’t be enough to make up for lost Iranian output could buoy the market moving forward.
The dollar slipped after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave little indication the central bank would accelerate its pace of rate increases in coming months. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, was recently down 0.55% at 89.31. At a symposium of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Mr. Powell defended the Fed’s strategy of gradually raising interest rates, pushing back against criticisms that the central bank is moving either too quickly or too slowly, jeopardizing the economy’s expansion. Expectations that rates will rise faster then anticipated tend to boost the dollar by making the U.S. currency more attractive to yield-seeking investors.
Italian shares lifted on unconfirmed reports that President Trump offered to buy the country’s debt. European stocks ended flat to slightly higher Friday, breaking a three-week run of losses, after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell struck an evenhanded tone in a closely watched speech. Meanwhile, some Italian banks got a lift after an unconfirmed report that President Donald Trump told the government he could buy some of the country’s debt. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose less than 0.1% to close at 383.56, leaving it with a gain of 0.7% for the week and marking the first weekly rise in three weeks. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2% to finish at 7,577.49, ahead of a three-day weekend, leaving it with a 0.3% weekly rise. Germany’s DAX finished 0.2% higher at 12,394.52, leaving it up 1.5% for the week. Italy’s FTSEMIB Italy Index ended 0.6% higher at 20,741.96, while the CAC 40 Index finished with a gain of 0.2% at 5,432.50.
Chinese indexes turned in mixed results after two days of midlevel trade talks between the U.S. and China failed to yield any breakthroughs. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2% Friday, bringing its gains for the week to 2.3%, while the Shenzhen A Share index dropped 0.2%. Representatives of the two governments largely repeated talking points during the discussions in Washington, according to people closely tracking the talks. China’s Commerce Ministry called the meeting “constructive and frank” in a statement. Early this week, the two countries imposed tariffs on an additional $16 billion of each other’s imports, bringing the total amount of goods under each country’s levies to $50 billion.