Market Update & Important Indicators
Shares of banks and other financial firms surged intraday, putting the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 on track to notch another set of record closes. Bank stocks have been rallying in recent weeks as Republicans in the House and Senate work to complete a sweeping tax overhaul this year. Rising government bond yields, which tend to boost bank profits, gave shares of financial firms an added lift ahead of the Federal Reserve's expected interest-rate increase on Wednesday. The Dow industrials rose 154 points, or 0.6%, to 24540 in recent trading, while the S&P 500 gained 0.3%. Both indexes were trading above their closing highs. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%. Goldman Sachs Group added 3.2%, making it one of the biggest contributors to the Dow's point gain. J.P. Morgan Chase also rose 1.6%. The U.S. gold price traded higher overnight, rising 0.2% to close at 1,243.30 US$/oz.
European stocks closed in the green, with Energy shares also rising after oil prices marched higher in the wake of a key pipeline outage. The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.7% to end at 391.63, erasing Monday's fall of less than 0.1%. The pan-European index closed at its highest level since Nov. 8, according to FactSet data. Among country-specific gauges, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 0.5% to end at 13,183.53, and France's CAC 40 picked up 0.8% to 5,427.19. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.6% to end at 7,500.41. Gains for energy shares helped there, as investors also digested official figures showing the U.K. inflation rate at its highest level in almost six years.
In Asian trading, stocks mostly pulled back, with regional tech shares reversing gains made Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.6%, led by a 2.9% drop in heavyweight Tencent Holdings. Taiwan's tech-heavy Taiex fell 0.3% and Korea's Kospi slipped 0.4%, despite a 0.6% gain for index heavyweight Samsung Electronics. That tech weakness, and a 0.1% rebound for the yen versus the dollar to Y113.4860, helped push the Nikkei down 0.3% in late trading. Regional selling also stung Chinese stocks, with the Shanghai Composite down 1.3% and the Shenzhen Composite down 1%.
Strong gains in energy stocks on the back of a surge in oil prices allowed Australia's equities benchmark to outperform wide declines in the region and notch a fourth-straight modest gain. The S&P/ASX 200 posted its longest winning streak since mid-October after a choppy session to finish up 0.2% at 6013.2 — a four-week high. Oil-related stocks were helped by Brent hitting fresh 2 1/2-year highs amid a key European pipeline being shut down. Big miners also perked up, with Fortescue climbing 2% and BHP and Rio Tinto rising more than 1%. REITs also gained as investors speculated on the undisclosed corporate transaction that prompted mall operator Westfield's trading halt.
The London Metal Exchange’s 3-month copper contract traded slightly lower overnight, losing 0.1% to finish at $6,663/t. The other base metals finished mixed. Aluminium prices slipped 0.3% to close at 1,995/t, whilst Lead prices gained 1.0% to close at 2,520/t. Zinc prices traded 0.8% higher, closing at 3,154/t, whilst Nickel prices slid, retreating 1.5% to 11,009/t. Tin prices fell 1.3% to close at 19,232/t.
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