Market Update & Important Indicators:
Major U.S. stock indexes were on track to set records again as oil prices climbed and earnings reports from U.S. retailers weren't as weak as feared. If the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite close at records, it would be the first time since Dec. 31, 1999 that all three have hit those milestones on the same day. Consumer-discretionary and energy stocks led broad gains across the market. Central banks are continuing to ease their policy, which has helped support stocks and sentiment toward risk.
European stocks ended firmly higher as oil prices shook off losses and investors cheered a round of upbeat earnings reports. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.8% to close at 346.66, after trading as low as 343.16 earlier in the day. The pan-European equities gauge on Wednesday edged down 0.2%, the first decline after five consecutive advances, as energy shares pulled lower. Shares of oil companies rose after mostly trading in the red earlier in the day when oil prices had dropped more than 1%. Losses for oil prices had accelerated after the International Energy Agency said oil demand world-wide will be lower than previously expected, and warned that a "massive" stock overhang is keeping a lid on crude oil prices.
Chinese stocks trading in Hong Kong caught a bounce Thursday on media reports out of mainland China that the Shenzhen-Hong Kong exchange trading link will be started soon. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which focuses on large Chinese firms trading in Hong Kong, finished up 1.2%. Shares elsewhere in Asia other were broadly lower Thursday as a rise in U.S. crude-oil inventory and expanding production in Saudi Arabia hit oil prices. South Korea's Kospi was up 0.2%. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. The Hang Seng Index finished 0.4% up. Shares in Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing rose 2.9% on reports from mainland media that an official announcement from Beijing on the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Connect program. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which would also benefit from the link, was up 1.8% at its highest point on Thursday, before reversing some of the gains. Shanghai's Composite Index lost early gains to trade 0.5% lower after an editorial in state-controlled Xinhua said that speculators betting on upcoming interest-rate cuts from China's central bank would be disappointed.
Australian shares slipped for a second straight day as banks remained under pressure following a trading update from one of the country's biggest lenders while energy stocks were knocked by a slump in crude-oil prices. The continued fall followed a four-session run higher for the local market and comes as earnings season continues to gather momentum, which traders said had encouraged some profit-taking. The S&P/ASX 200 fell 35.7 points, or 0.6%, to close at 5508.0. About 2.7 billion shares were traded for the day, with a value of 5.4 billion Australian dollars (US$4.2 billion), Commonwealth Securities said.
Copper prices closed higher, boosted by rising oil prices and weak trading volumes. The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract settled 0.54% higher at $4,848/t at the PM kerb close on Thursday. Other base metals were mixed. Aluminium was up 0.5% at $1,643/t, zinc was down 0.6% at $2,271/t, nickel was down 1.2% at $10,691/t, lead was up 0.8% at $1,824/t, and tin was down 1.1% at $18,335/t.
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Heron Resources (HRR), Gascoyne Resources (GCY), Vimy Resources (VMY), West African Resources (WAF), Dacian Gold (DCN), Pilbara Minerals (PLS), Independence Group (IGO), Rio Tinto (RIO), Silver Lake Resources (SLR), Lynas Corporation (LYC), Evolution Mining (EVN), Regis Resources (RRL), Xanadu Mines (XAM), Mincor Resources NL (MCR) , Carbine Resources Ltd (CRB), Antipa Minerals (AZY), Energia Minerals Ltd (EMX), Pantoro Limited (PNR), Boss Resources Ltd (BOE), Metro Mining Ltd (MMI), Metal Bank Ltd (MBK), Actinogen Medical (ACW) ), St. George Mining Ltd (SGQ), Resapp Health Ltd (RAP), Orecorp Limited (ORR), Dimerix Limited (DXB)
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