Market Update & Important Indicators
The S&P 500 has edged higher to a new record in choppy trade following disappointing reports on US industrial production and consumer confidence. The S&P 500 rose 1.63 points (0.08) to 2,122.73, notching its second straight record close on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial added 20.32 (0.11 per cent) at 18,272.56, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 2.50 (0.05 per cent) to 5,048.29. US industrial production fell 0.3 per cent in April, the fifth straight month of decline, according to Federal Reserve data. The University of Michigan's US consumer sentiment index plummeted to 88.6 in May from 95.9 in April. Offsetting these data were the pullback in the US dollar and US Treasury yields.
Europe's equities have closed down, losing steam after an early rally on the back of European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi's vow to continue its stimulus program for "as long as needed" to stabilise prices. The mood of investors turned sour in afternoon trading on continuing worries over Greece, and a new batch of discouraging consumer data out of the US. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of leading companies closed down 0.18 per cent to 6,960.49 points on Friday. In Paris, the CAC 40 dipped 0.71 per cent to 4,993.82, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 lost 0.98 per cent to 11,447.03 points compared with the close on Thursday, when many traders were away for a public holiday in both European capitals. Eurozone bond markets meanwhile calmed following a steep sell-off in recent weeks. With the economy and inflation recently picking up, there has been speculation that the ECB would wind up early its unprecedented 1.1 trillion euros ($A1.54 trillion) asset-purchase program, widely known as quantitative easing (QE).
Asian markets have mostly advanced following a healthy rally on Wall Street, while Tokyo was supported by a weaker yen and Hong Kong enjoyed strong buying in the afternoon to put on almost two per cent. The euro remained a target for buying on Friday after this week's upbeat Eurozone growth data and despite Greece's struggles to hammer out a debt reform deal with creditors. Tokyo's Nikkei index climbed 0.83 per cent, or 162.68 points to finish at 19,732.92. Hong Kong rose 1.96 per cent, or 535.73 points, to 27,822.28 on speculation authorities will soon announce a tie-up between the city's index and Shenzhen's, similar to that with Shanghai. However, Seoul fell 0.65 per cent, or 13.83 points, to close at 2,106.50 while Shanghai shed 1.59 per cent, or 69.62 points, to 4,308.69.
In Australia, the stock market on Friday gained nearly 0.7 per cent but traders were unwilling to push the ASX200 beyond 5,750 points. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 38.9 points, or 0.68 per cent, higher at 5,735.5. The broader All Ordinaries index was up 37.5 points, or 0.66 per cent, at 5,730. Locally on Monday, Reserve Bank deputy governor Philip Lowe gives a speech to the Corporate Finance Forum in Sydney.
Base metals were mixed on the LME, with Zinc and Aluminium both declining 0.9%. Nickel was up 1.5%. Iron ore 62% Fines dropped 1.6% to $61.31/t and Brent crude increased 0.1% to $66.91/bbl. Gold, added a further 0.2% overnight to $1,221/oz.
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