Australian stocks are expected to have a flat open amid optimism about easing tensions between North and South Korea and as President Donald Trump faces pressure not to impose heavy tariffs on US metals imports.
At 0700 AEDT on Wednesday, the Australian share price futures index was up three points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5,957.
In economic news on Wednesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will national accounts figures for the December quarter, which includes gross domestic product.
Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe speaks at Australian Financial Review Business Summit, and the Ai Group releases its Performance of Construction Index.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar moved above 78 US cents for the first time in a week, helped by the improving market optimism.
Wall Street steadied on Tuesday as signs of easing tensions in the Korean Peninsula and political pressure against US metals tariffs offset the fears of a global trade war that have dominated markets since last week.
A Bloomberg report quoting a close ally of President Donald Trump as saying that Trump was open to changes to his proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum was cited by traders as behind a mid session jump into positive territory for the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500.
Heading into the final hour of trade all three major Wall Street indices had settled to trade flat or slightly higher on the day after a volatile morning marked chiefly by news that North Korea was open to the possibility of talks with the United States on denuclearisation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 50.39 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 24,925.15. The S&P 500 rose 7.43 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 2,728.15, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 39.93 points, or 0.54 per cent to 7,370.64.
Gold prices climbed, scoring their highest settlement in two-and-a-half weeks, as the U.S. dollar saw a sharp decline.
U.S. stocks were mixed, though gave up most of their earlier gains – contributing to the yellow metal’s investment appeal even as concerns surrounding a potential trade war and tensions between North and South Korea appeared to ease.
IRON ORE: $72.92 -0.28(April contract)
Oil prices edged higher, supported by moves in stock markets and currencies, even as investors continued to anticipate a massive increase in U.S. crude output.
U.S. crude futures settled up 3 cents, or 0.05%, to $62.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 25 cents, or 0.38%, to $65.79 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
The dollar fell intraday, amid continued uncertainty over a trade squabble between the U.S. and other nations.
The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, was recently down 0.4% at 83.47.
Expectations of rising tensions between the U.S. and its trading partners have put investors on edge in recent days, helping drag the dollar down from its February highs.
Several senior Republicans have spoken out against White House plans to put tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, helping ease tensions. Some investor also believe the tariff threats may be a negotiating tactic employed by President Donald Trump, who is seeking to renegotiate trade deals with key U.S. partners, including Mexico and Canada.
The Australian dollar is higher, as the mood on financial markets further improves on the back of easing worries over a possible trade war sparked by the imposion of heavy tariffs by the US on metals imports.
At 0635 AEDT on Wednesday, the local currency was worth 78.23 US cents, up from 77.74 US cents on Tuesday.
A takeover approach for Irish packaging group Smurfit Kappa by US-based
International Paper lifted shares in the whole sector on Tuesday, providing a boost to Britain’s top share index.
The FTSE 100 ended up 0.4 per cent, outperforming European markets, as world stocks shrugged off fears of a trade war and concerns about political risk in Italy following its inconclusive general election.
The DAX index in Germany was up 0.19 per cent, and French share appeared steady with the CAC 40 up 0.06 per cent.
The Irish listed shares of Smurfit Kappa, Europe’s largest producer of paper-based packaging, jumped 18.3 per cent to 33.86 euros after the company said the proposal from International Paper failed to reflect its growth prospects and the industry’s attractive outlook.
Asian shares regained ground on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump faced growing pressure from political allies to pull back from proposed tariffs.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.5 per cent, snapping five straight days of losses, while Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.8 per cent from a five-month low.
Korean shares have erased all the losses they had taken after Trump’s announcement even though the country is seen as being among the worst affected in region by the tariffs due to its big steel exports to the United States.
The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.58 per cent, to 8,327.66.