Market Update & Important Indicators
U.S. stocks notched weekly gains and the Nasdaq Composite closed at a record, even as shares of big banks declined. A backdrop of improving global economic growth and the expectation that it will be another strong quarter for corporate earnings has supported stocks, traders say. The march higher comes even as there have been some hiccups in data, from weaker-than-anticipated inflation to job losses in September, and as some investors worry shares look pricey. A measure of U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its highest level since 2004 in the first half of October, according to the University of Michigan on Friday. Rising sentiment suggests increased household spending could follow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 30.71 points, or 0.1%, to 22871.72 Friday, finishing the week up 0.4%. The S&P 500 added 2.24 points, or 0.1%, to 2553.17. Both indexes posted their fifth straight week of gains. The Nasdaq Composite rose 14.29 points, or 0.2%, to 6605.80, a fresh record. It added 0.2% in its third consecutive weekly gain. The U.S. gold price traded higher overnight, adding 0.8% to finish at 1,303.30 US$/oz.
European shares edged higher Friday as economic data in the eurozone met forecasts. The Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.3%, or 1.14 points, to 391.42 after German inflation held steady at 1.8%, in-line with economists' predictions. Italy's inflation rate slipped back to 1.1% from 1.2%, also meeting expectations. The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.5% for the week.
In Asian trading Friday, stocks closed mostly up. Korea's Kospi, however, struggled to log a third-straight record close, edging down less than 0.1%. Traders came back from the midday break in Japan in an upbeat mood, with the Nikkei climbing more after sprinting to heights last seen in 1996. The benchmark finished up 1% at 21211.29. Despite looming elections, markets weren't concerned there will be a change of government in Japan, while export figures continue to be strong and the Bank of Japan remains in expansionary mode. Amid Friday's stock gains, China released figures showing imports jumped a bigger-than-expected 19% in dollar terms from a year earlier in September. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.1%.
Further broad gains capped the strongest week for Australian shares since the end of March, settling at its best levels since late June. Joining modest advances across Asia-Pacific, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 5814.2 despite a dip in the final minutes. That left the index up 1.8% for the week and at the upper end of a fairly narrow range that's held since May. Banks rose further today while BHP Billiton and the other big miners added their weight to the push, recovering from Thursday's drop. Meanwhile, Medibank rose 2% as health insurers were buoyed by news of federal initiatives to reform the industry.
The London Metal Exchange’s 3-month copper contract traded slightly lower overnight, pulling back 0.07% to finish at $6,882/t. The other base metals finished mostly lower. Aluminium prices fell 0.6% to 2,110/t, whilst tin prices also dropped 0.6% to 20,735/t. Zinc prices lost 1.4% to 3,294/t. Lead prices pulled back as well, falling 1.1% to 2,518/t. Nickel prices traded firmly higher again though, posting a 2.4% gain to finish at 11,611/t.
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