Wall Street has moved into negative territory in choppy trade as oil prices pares earlier gains and investors await Friday's key monthly jobs report.
Oil was lower after jumping seven per cent on Wednesday as the US dollar weakened after weak data signalled that the US Federal Reserve will hold off from raising rates 2016. Federal fund futures indicate traders no longer expect a Fed rise this year. The US dollar index which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, hit 96.25, its lowest level in more than three months. Data on Thursday showed that weekly jobless claims rose more than expected and non-farm productivity fell in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in more than a year.
New orders for US factory goods also fell in December by the most in a year. "In the short term, we really need to see a decent payroll number tomorrow and for earnings season to conclude with no major surprises," said Bill Merz, investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management. "More importantly, investors need to start feeling as though oil is stabiliSing or at least nearing a bottom before the volatility in the market can subside." In afternoon trade (0653 Friday AEDT), the Dow Jones industrial average had fallen back to be down 6.32 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 16,330.34, the S&P 500 was down 6.51 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 1,906.02 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 25.35 points, or 0.56 per cent, at 4,478.89.
LONDON - Britain's top share index have rallied, rebounding from the previous session's falls after a drop in the US dollar boosted commodity prices and gave a lift to mining and oil shares. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 1.1 per cent at 5,898.76 points at its close on Thursday, snapping a three-day losing streak that had seen the index shed 4 per cent. The rally came as expectations for a US Federal Reserve rate rise evaporated. That sent the US dollar tumbling, making dollar-priced crude oil and metals cheaper for holders of other currencies. The rally in oil prices came even after data showed the crude market remained oversupplied. FTSE 350 Oil and Gas shares surged 5.6 per cent.
HONG KONG - Asian stocks had a mixed performance, with the focus on energy companies and speculation US interest rates may not rise at all in 2016. The US dollar fell sharply on Wednesday after weak US data and comments from a Fed policy maker interpreted as signalling further rate hikes could be delayed. The US currency, which fell sharply on Wednesday after weak US data and Federal Reserve comments signalled further rate rises could be delayed, on Thursday fell another 0.2 per cent against a basket of its peers. "The dollar is on its knees," said Richard Benson, head of portfolio management with currency fund Millennium in London. "Probably we will now have some stability ahead of US payrolls tomorrow." MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped two per cent. Australia's resource-rich index rose 2.1 per cent. Tokyo's Nikkei fell 0.9 per cent, pressured by a stronger yen, which harms exporters, and by weak earnings forecasts from leading companies. Chinese shares gained, with the CSI300 index closing 1.2 per cent higher as the weaker dollar eased concerns of a sharp near-term depreciation in the yuan currency.
WELLINGTON - The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 4.3 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6137.7.
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