The ASX’s seven-session winning run is under threat after a potential delay in a trade deal weighed down Wall Street.
index futures declined
23 points or 0.3 per cent to 6700 as US stocks retreated from record levels.
The benchmark local index, the ASX 200, has inched higher each day since the
start of last week but the rally has flagged over the last two sessions, adding
just a point and a half on Monday and less than five points yesterday.
The S&P 500 hit a fresh all-time high overnight before closing in the red after a US trade official warned a deal with China may not be ready to sign at next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile. The broadest of the three major US indices finished three points or 0.08 per cent lower. The Dow shed 19 points or 0.07 per cent, finishing roughly 1 per cent off a record. The Nasdaq, heavily freighted with trade-sensitive tech stocks, fell 49 points or 0.59 per cent.
The Reuters report that triggered the reversal quoted an unnamed US official as saying, “Our goal is to sign it [the trade deal] in Chile. But sometimes texts aren’t ready.” The official added that negotiations had made good progress and he expected the “phase one interim deal” to be ready to sign when President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping gather with other Pacific-region leaders on November 16-17. Still, the possibility of a delay was enough to drag US stocks into the red.
Earlier, the S&P 500 touched a second straight all-time high as traders welcomed broadly positive corporate earnings and as futures trading indicated a rate cut tonight is a near-certainty. Health giants Pfizer and Merck both beat analysts’ targets. General Motors spiked 4.3 per cent as third-quarter profits came in significantly higher than expected. Google parent Alphabet was the night’s highest profile flop, dropping 2.1 per cent after reporting a decline in net income a share.
A modest fall in consumer confidence did nothing to undermine expectations for a rate cut tonight. The CME Group’s FedWatch Tool listed the odds on a cut at 97.3 per cent this morning after the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index eased to 125.9 this month from a revised 126.3 in September. The reading was near the bottom of the index’s trading range over the last two years. The US Federal Reserve began a two-day meeting yesterday and is due to announce any change to the Federal Funds Rate at 5am tomorrow, Eastern Standard Time.
The week-long rally in mining giant BHP stalled overnight after the company said its Escondida copper mine was operating at a “reduced rate” after workers went on strike temporarily yesterday. BHP’sUS-listed stock eased 0.34 per cent and its UK-listed stock shed 0.05 per cent. Rio Tinto shrugged off a decline in iron ore, gaining 0.06 per cent in the US and 0.36 per cent in the UK. The spot price for iron ore landed at China’s Tianjin port fell $2.15 or 2.5 per cent yesterday to $US85.50 a dry ton.
Gold fell further below the $US1,500 an ounce level following disappointing demand during the Hindu Diwali festival. Gold for December delivery settled $5.10 or 0.3 per cent lower at $US1,490.70 an ounce. Sales during the Diwali festival – traditionally a period of high demand – were down 40 per cent this year, according to James Hatzigiannis, strategist at Long Leaf Trading Group.
Nickel was boosted by a temporary stay on exports at leading producer Indonesia. Benchmark nickel rose 1.1 per cent on the London Metal Exchange after Indonesia’s mining minister announced he was suspending nickel ore exports while authorities investigate alleged violations of export rules. Copper was bid up 0.3 per cent in closing rings. Aluminium improved 1 per cent, lead 1.3 per cent, tin 0.8 per cent and zinc 0.1 per cent.
A volatile session on energy markets saw oil settle barely changed as traders weighed expectations for an increase in US inventories. Brent crude traded as low as $US60.66 a barrel before settling two cent, or less than 0.1 per cent ahead at $US61.59 a barrel. The analyst consensus for tonight’s week’s US inventory update is for a rise of 2.5 million barrels.
The dollar rose two-fifths of a cent overnight to 68.64 US cents.
A big 24 hours coming up for global money markets. Inflation is one of the key inputs to Reserve Bank rate decisions, and data for the first three months of the financial year are due today at 11.30am EST. The domestic AGM season continues, and quarterly reports are due from a slew of companies scrambling to beat the end-of-month deadline. All eyes in the US tonight will be on the Fed, with the central bank widely expected to cut its key rate for the third time this year by 25 basis points. GDP and employment figures are also due.