Market Update & Important Indicators
Surging shares of financial companies helped put major indexes intraday on track to notch another series of record closes. Banks and insurance companies drove the financial sector of the S&P 500 more than 2% higher – on pace for its best day in months. Shares of financial companies, which had been trading higher early in the session, got a boost after Jerome Powell indicated the Federal Reserve was likely to raise short-term interest rates next month. The Senate Budget Committee also advanced Republicans' tax bill, and a full Senate vote could happen later this week. Mr. Powell, who was speaking at a Senate panel hearing on his nomination to be the next Fed chairman, added he believes some financial crisis-era regulations should be re-evaluated to ensure they are efficient and tailored to the risks of individual firms. The U.S. gold price traded flat overnight, closing at 1,293.50 US$/oz.
European stocks finished higher for the first time in three sessions, lifted by Corporate activity and major Oil company Royal Dutch Shell. The oil sector helped lift European markets, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas index up 1.4%. U.K. banks were in focus after the Bank of England said all seven major British banks passed its stress tests. The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 0.6% to close at 387.02, rebounding from its lowest close since Nov. 17, logged on Monday. The major country-specific indexes were also in a good mood. Germany's DAX 30 climbed 0.5% to end at 13,059.53, while France's CAC 40 added 0.6% to 5,390.48. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 jumped 1% to end at 7,460.65.
Asia-Pacific stocks declined following modest overnight drops in Europe and the U.S., with the highflying Hong Kong underperforming on fresh China-related concerns. Hong Kong's market was hit by reports China is set to slow or suspend approvals of new funds that would otherwise predominantly be invested in Hong Kong stocks. The Hang Seng Index — among the world's best-performing benchmarks this year with its 34% jump — fell 0.7% amid slides in some of the market's recent strong performers. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks improved in afternoon trading, with the Shanghai Composite turning slightly higher. The Shenzhen benchmarks rebounded at least 1%, after having fallen more than Shanghai shares recently. Shanghai is home to more old-line, state-controlled firms while Shenzhen-listed firms are skewed toward tech.
The 6000 mark remains a hurdle for Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200, which for a second session edged above there only to fade by the finish. Drifting lower after midday amid regional weakness and as banks and resource stocks weighed, the index fell 0.1% to 5984.3. With growing calls for a judicial inquiry into the banking sector, Westpac and NAB each lost 0.9% while ANZ fell 0.8%.
The London Metal Exchange’s 3-month copper contract traded lower overnight, slipping 2.0% to finish at $6,805/t. The other base metals also finished lower as caution set in over future Electric Vehicle demand. Aluminium prices fell 1.5% to 2,088/t, whilst Lead prices gave up 1.7% to close at 2,415/t. Zinc prices dropped 1.1% to close at 3,178/t, whilst Nickel prices pared 1.9% at 11,290/t. Tin prices bucked the trend, closing 0.1% higher at 19,610/t.
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