Australian stocks look set to open marginally higher following cautious gains on Wall Street as volatility abated on global markets.
SPI200 index futures edged up 10 points or almost 0.2 per cent to 6689 despite pressure on the big miners in overseas action.
US stocks spent much of the session underwater before climbing in late-afternoon trade. The S&P 500 closed five points or 0.15 per cent higher despite a minor wobble following a report that the US and China cannot agree on Chinese purchases of US farm produce. The Dow gained 28 points or 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq four points or 0.05 per cent.
Wall Street paused for breath after a week of wild swings that sent the ASX 200 down 3.7 per cent in two sessions. The benchmark Australian index recouped roughly a third of that yesterday and may extend gains today after strong jobless claims soothed concerns about tonight’s US employment report and as US and China spruiked progress in trade talks.
A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce told reporters negotiators were in “close communication” ahead of the December 15 deadline for a US tariff hike. US President Donald Trump adopted a more upbeat tone when describing talks after rattling markets earlier in the week by hinting a deal might not happen until after next year’s November presidential election. Market nerves were soothed by a report yesterday that US negotiators still expect to sign a phase-one deal before December 15.
Expectations for the November jobs report, due tonight, were raised by a decline in applications for unemployment benefits to their lowest level in seven months. Initial claims declined by 10,000 last week to 203,000, close to a 50-year low. Factory orders improved 0.3 per cent in October. the first increase in three months.
The big miners may prove a headwind for the local market after turning lower in overseas action. BHP’s US-listed stock fell 0.66 per cent and its UK-listed stock 1.62 per cent. Rio Tinto shed 0.44 per cent in the US and 1.2 per cent in the UK. The spot iron ore price eased 30 cents or 0.3 per cent to $US88.70 a dry ton.
Oil rose on reports OPEC intends to support prices by cutting production by 500,000 barrels a day. A committee headed by Saudi Arabia and Russia laid the recommendation before members of the oil cartel at last night’s meeting. An official announcement is due after a second round of meetings tonight. Brent crude climbed 39 cents or 0.6 per cent to $US63.39 a barrel. The US benchmark was unchanged.
Gold inched higher ahead of tonight’s November US jobs report, a potential market-mover. Gold for February delivery settled $2.90 or 0.2 per cent ahead at $US1,483.10 an ounce.
The drawn-out trade war has kept a lid on copper prices this year, which are trading close to where they were in January. Overnight, benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange finished barely changed for the session at $US5,889 a tonne. Nickel gained 1.2 per cent and tin 0.3 per cent. Aluminium dropped 0.6 per cent, lead 0.9 per cent and zinc 0.5 per cent.
The air continued to seep from this week’s rebound in the dollar. The Aussie eased a quarter of a cent to 68.31 US cents.
November construction figures are due to be released at 9.30 am EST. OPEC holds a second round of meetings tonight, this time with representatives of 11 other oil-rich nations. Wall Street ends the week with a slew of data, including the November jobs report, average hourly earnings and consumer sentiment.