The ASX looks set to open cautiously higher after Wall Street overcame a mid-session trade wobble to eke out a new record.
Australian index futures rose 16 points or more than 0.2 per cent to 6707 as US stocks inched higher. The upturn raises hopes of a rebound following two days of losses that have pulled the ASX 200 down 74 points or 1.1 per cent since a three-month peak on Monday.
A strengthening rally in the US was kneecapped mid-session by a Wall Street Journal report that trade talks with China had hit an impasse over agricultural produce and intellectual property. The S&P 500 briefly surrendered its gains before reviving to close two points or 0.07 per cent ahead at a new record, the index’s 20th this year. The Dow hit an intraday high on strength in Walt Disney, rising 92 points or 0.33 per cent. The Nasdaq slipped four points or 0.05 per cent as trade-sensitive computer chipmakers took a hit.
China is reluctant to commit to buying the $US50 billion worth of US agricultural produce demanded by US President Donald Trump as a condition for removing trade tariffs, according to the WSJ report. US negotiators are also facing pushback on demands that China stop forcing US companies to surrender intellectual property as a condition of entry to Chinese markets. The developments are the latest obstacle to a deal to end a 16-month feud that has seen both countries slap tariffs on billions of dollars of imports.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell helped soothe market nerves over the start of an impeachment inquiry into the president by telling Congress the economy was in good shape. Powell told the Joint Economic Committee the Fed board saw “a sustained expansion of economic activity, a strong labour market, and inflation near our symmetric 2 per cent objective as most likely”. A report last night showed inflation accelerated last month, lifting the annual rate to 1.8 per cent.
The Dow’s all-time high came on the back of a 7.25 per cent surge in Walt Disney after the media giant revealed ten million subscribers had signed up to its new Disney+ streaming service a day after launch. Netflix shares sank 3.05 per cent.
Iron ore miners had yet to find a bottom despite a second day of gains in the ore price yesterday. BHP’s US-listed stock lost 1.19 per cent overnight and its UK-listed stock 1.16 per cent. Rio Tinto shed 1.58 per cent in the US and 1.66 per cent in the UK. The spot price for iron ore landed at China’s Tianjin port yesterday edged up 15 cents or 0.2 per cent to $US81.15 a dry ton.
Oil recouped most of its losses sustained over the first part of the week after the US Energy Information Administration raised its price forecast for next year, and the head of OPEC said he was “confident” the US and China would strike a trade deal. Brent crude rallied 31 cents or 0.5 per cent to $US62.37 a barrel
Gold recorded its first gain in five sessions as trade doubts and the start of impeachment hearings against the president fed haven demand. Gold for December delivery settled $9.60 or 0.7 per cent higher at $US1,463.30 an ounce.
Industrial metals took their cues from President Donald Trump’s threat to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods if trade talks collapse. Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange slid for a fourth session to a two-week low, falling 0.6 per cent to $US5,835 a tonne. Aluminium gave up 0.7 per cent, lead 1.2 per cent, nickel 1.8 per cent, tin 2.1 per cent and zinc 2 per cent.
The dollar has been in retreat all week and this morning slipped less than a tenth of a cent to 68.37 US cents.
The monthly jobs report – one of the few domestic economic releases with the power to change the market’s direction – is due today at 11.30am EST. China has a swag of October figures scheduled for 1pm, including industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investments. Wall Street has producer inflation data on tap tonight, as well as further testimony in Washington from Fed Chair Powell.