Oil prices rose in Asia on Friday as dealers focused on increasing tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine.]]> |||
Tokyo - Oil prices rose in Asia on Friday as dealers focused on increasing tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine, while shrugging off concerns about surging US stockpiles, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate added 32 cents to $51.08 while Brent gained 47 cents to $60.95 in late-morning trade.
“We are seeing a constructive market at the moment with traders seeing a lot of upside potential, possibly based on tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, told AFP.
“Somehow, we are seeing investors looking away from the huge build in US inventories this week,” he added.
Libya's National Oil Company declared force majeure Wednesday at 11 oil fields after attacks by Islamists.
The Opec member has been battling the rise of militias seeking control of its cities and oil wealth since the killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Unabated fighting has seen its output reduced from a high of almost 1.5 million barrels a day to 150 000, according to analysts.
In Ukraine, investors are closely watching latest efforts to prop up a ceasefire in the country's eastern region, currently controlled by pro-Russia rebels.
The 10-month conflict in the country - a key conduit for Russian energy exports to Europe - is seen as Europe's worse since the war in the Balkans in the 1990s.
Analysts said dealers will next scrutinise the release Friday of US non-farm payrolls and unemployment data for February, looking for clues on the strength of the US economy.
Data on Wednesday showing an unexpected 10.3 million barrels surge in US crude reserves in the week to February 27 had dampened expectations of robust demand in the world's top crude consumer ahead of summer.
Japan’s Nikkei gained 1 percent to a fresh 15-year top after the yen weakened on the dollar.]]> |||
Sydney - The dollar held pole position in Asia on Friday as bulls wagered a looming US jobs report would add to the chance of rate hikes there, even as the European Central Bank embarks on a trillion euro campaign of bond-buying.
The same balance of risks kept most equity investors cautious with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up a slim 0.2 percent.
Australia's main index dipped 0.4 percent, while Shanghai edged up 0.2 percent. The major exception was Japan's Nikkei which gained 1 percent to a fresh 15-year top after the yen weakened on the dollar.
Analysts polled by Reuters expect US payrolls to have increased 240,000 last month and the jobless rate to have ticked down to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.
The recent run of US economic news has been mixed at best, leading analysts to steadily downgrade forecasts for growth this quarter. A strong jobs report could offset all that and give the Fed reason to stick to its tightening timetable at the next policy meeting on March 17-18.
“Another healthy job gain, particularly if accompanied by another relatively firm gain in average hourly earnings, would go a long way toward solidifying expectations for “patient” being removed from the March statement and increasing the perceived odds of a rate hike in June,” said Edward Acton, a Treasury strategist at RBS.
An upbeat jobs report would typically be positive for Wall Street, but the risk of an early hike may complicate the market's reaction.
Investors were playing it safe on Thursday with the Dow ending up a bare 0.21 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.12 percent and the Nasdaq 0.32 percent.
European markets had no such reservations as shares reached their highest in more than seven years, boosted by encouraging comments from the European Central Bank and strong results from supermarket Carrefour.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended Thursday up 0.8 percent.
ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank's bond-buying programme, due to start on Monday, may last beyond September 2016 if necessary. The bank also increased its economic growth forecasts for this year and next.
Draghi also surprised some by saying the central bank would be prepared to buy bonds with negative yields of up to 20 basis points, triggering a big rally in euro zone bonds.
With yield spreads widening in the dollar's favour, the euro broke below $1.1000 for the first time since September 2003, but has since drifted back to $1.1026.
Traders said the currency was vulnerable to a test of $1.0500, a trough seen in March 2003.
Against sterling, the common currency hovered just above a seven-year low of 72.18 pence. It also struggled at 132.50 yen, near its lowest in a month.
The dollar index traded at 96.332, having climbed as far as 96.593 - a high not seen since September 2003. It was also firm on the yen at 120.10 and held hefty gains on a broad range of emerging market currencies.
In commodity markets, US crude was quoted 36 cents firmer at $51.12, while Brent crude gained 37 cents to $60.85 a barrel.
Spot gold prices were little changed at $1,199.30 an ounce.
US stocks closed modestly higher in light trading on Thursday as investors held back on big bets ahead of Friday's jobs report.]]> |||
New York - US stocks closed modestly higher in light trading on Thursday as investors held back on big bets ahead of Friday's jobs report, which is expected to be a big factor in influencing the timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.
Focus on the report was heightened as many investors see it as one of the most import economic indicators due to be released ahead of the Fed's meeting in mid-March.
“People are anticipating some fireworks tomorrow. That's the best way to describe the waiting today,” said Paul Schatz, president and chief investment officer at Heritage Capital in Woodbridge, Connecticut.
The S&P and the Dow had hit records and the Nasdaq surpassed 5,000 at the start of the week after a strong February performance for US stocks, giving additional reason for investors to take a breather on Thursday.
European news was some help to US markets but higher-than-expected US jobless claims took “a little bit of the wind out of the sails”, said Paul Brigandi, managing director of portfolio management at Direxion Funds in New York.
Initial jobless claims rose to 320 000 in the latest week, above the 295 000 estimate. The disappointing numbers came after a weaker-than-expected private payrolls report on Wednesday and ahead of Friday's monthly employment report.
A separate report showed new orders for US factory goods unexpectedly fell in January for a sixth month, a sign of weakness in the manufacturing sector.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.82 points, or 0.21 percent, to 18,135.72, the S&P 500 gained 2.51 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,101.04 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.67 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,982.81.
Earlier in the day, the European Central Bank raised growth and inflation targets and announced it would start its government bond-buying programme of 60 billion euros a month on March 9.
AbbVie said it would buy Pharmacyclics for about $21 billion, giving it access to what is expected to be one of the world's top-selling cancer drugs. Pharmacyclics shares jumped 10.3 percent to $254.22 while AbbVie fell 5.7 percent to $56.86.
The news also helped lift other healthcare stocks such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which closed up 5.8 percent at $126.96. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals added 3.8 percent to $428.95 and Biogen Idec rose 2.8 percent to $425.60.
About 5.7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 6.5 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,660 to 1,371, for a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,560 issues rose and 1,154 fell, for a 1.35-to-1 ratio favouring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 97 new highs and 42 new lows.
The dollar was steady ahead of a key jobs report from the United States.]]> |||
Tokyo - The dollar was steady ahead of a key US jobs report, while the euro struggled after the European Central Bank released details of an unprecedented monetary easing plan designed to lift the faltering eurozone economy.
In Tokyo, the greenback slipped to 119.99 yen from 120.14 yen in New York but it was still up from 119.85 yen in Tokyo earlier on Thursday.
The single currency bought $1.1025 against $1.1028 in US trade where it pushed below $1.10 for the first time since September 2003.
It is sharply down from around $1.12 at the beginning of the week.
It also slipped to 132.28 yen from 132.50 yen in New York.
“The euro's sharp plunge is elevating the dollar,” Takeru Kurokawa, an analyst in Tokyo at Ueda Harlow, wrote in a client note. “Payrolls within expectations should be dollar supportive.”
The US Labour Department releases jobs data later on Friday, which investors will pore over for clues about the state of the world's top economy, and when the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates.
Analysts forecast job growth slipped to 240 000 in February from 257,000 in January, while the unemployment rate edged down to 5.6 percent from 5.7 percent.
The lower expectations - following a surge in January - come on the back of a series of disappointing economic data that have cast doubt on how well the labour market has held up.
On Thursday, ECB chief Mario Draghi said the bank will start buying government debt in its new 1.1 trillion euro quantitative easing programme on Monday.
The eurozone's top central banker also offered some upbeat news, saying the ECB was raising its growth forecasts for the 19-nation bloc, although he added that inflation would come in at zero this year, lower than previously projected.
* Bloomberg News contributed to this report
The JSE all share index was up 0.75% at 53285.6 as the local bourse followed global markets higher.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The JSE all share index was up 0.75% at 53285.6 as the local bourse followed global markets higher. It was lifted by financial and industrial stocks, which were 1.6%, 1.1% higher respectively. The JSE’s movement was in line with global markets. The FTSE was up 0.51% to 6954,31 points.
Among companies that reported results today were Standard Bank, Sanlam, Exxaro and Aspen. all except coal miner Exxaro reported positive numbers.
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.1 percent on Thursday.]]> |||
London - Britain's top share index steadied near a record high on Thursday, with a rally in insurers after positive results offsetting weakness in companies trading without the attraction of their latest dividend payout.
Rio Tinto, CRH, HSBC and RSA fell 1.1 to 3.4 percent as they traded ex-dividend.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.1 percent at 6,927.04 points by 08h56 GMT, not far from a record peak of 6,974.26 points set earlier this month.
Insurer Aviva rose 4.8 percent, the top gainer in the FTSE 100 index, after reporting a 6 percent rise in 2014 operating profit.
“The results are both broadly pleasing and in stark contrast to the travails of recent years, most notably the financial crisis and subsequent dividend cut in 2013,” Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said.
“The key metrics show significant improvement, including the operating profit, earnings per share, reduction in costs and a growth spurt in the likes of Poland and Asia where the value of new business increased by some 25 percent.
Friends Life rose 4.4 percent after saying its operating profit before tax rose 38 percent to 556 million pounds ($847.51 million) in 2014 from a year earlier.
Among other sharp movers, British broadcaster ITV extended gains on the back of several broker upgrades, a day after announcing on Wednesday the return of cash to shareholders following strong international growth.
ITV shares gained 3.6 percent after HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Berenberg, JPMorgan, Nomura and Exane all raised their target prices for the stock. Goldman also added the company to its “conviction list”.
However, miners faced some selling pressure after China, the world's biggest metals consumer, lowered its economic growth target for 2015 to around 7.0 percent from 7.5 percent in 2014. BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Antofagasta fell 0.8 to 1.3 percent.
Investors awaited a meeting of the European Central Bank, which will start a bond-buying programme worth more than 1 trillion euros this month. The bank is expected to provide more details later in the day.
The Bank of England also holds a meeting later in the day.
“Nothing of significance is anticipated from today's MPC (BoE's Monetary Policy Committee) meeting, so investors are reluctant to push that index any higher,” John Smith, senior fund manager at Brown Shipley, said.
European shares rose in early trading on Thursday, with a batch of robust company results boosting sentiment.]]> |||
Paris - European shares rose in early trading on Thursday, with a batch of robust company results from firms including Carrefour and Schroders boosting sentiment.
Investors also awaited the European Central bank meeting at which it is set to give further details on its massive bond-buying programme.
Shares in Carrefour rose 1.8 percent after the world's second-largest retailer said it would boost capital expenditure this year as it seeks to cement a revival of its European hypermarkets.
The British fund manager Schroders was up 2.5 percent after reporting a better-than-expected jump in its 2014 pretax profit as net inflows more than tripled to 24.8 billion pounds.
About 80 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have reported results so far, posting a 22 percent surge in quarterly profits, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data, making for Europe's best earnings season since mid-2011.
“Corporate results are encouraging,” said Joffrey Ouafqa, fund manager at Paris-based Auris Gestion Privee.
“Companies have done a great job in terms of restructuring, and now they have a strong operating leverage. A small rise in revenue is enough to send profits soaring.”
At 08h33 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.4 percent at 1,563.55 points, hovering not far below a seven-year high posted earlier this week.
The ECB, which starts its quantitative easing, or bond-buying, programme worth more than 1 trillion euros this month, is expected to detail the plan later in the day following its policy meeting.
The bank is also set to keep rates on hold and lift growth forecasts to reflect a string of positive data surprises, but cut inflation projections as it incorporates the full effect of a dramatic oil price fall.
European stocks have rallied strongly since the start of the year, boosted by the prospect of quantitative easing. The FTSEurofirst 300 index is up 14 percent in 2015, outpacing Wall Street, where the S&P 500 is up 1.9 percent over the same period.
Miners bucked the trend on Thursday, with Anglo American down 0.9 percent, after China announced an economic growth target for 2015 of around 7 percent and said it would boost government spending, signalling that the lowest rate of expansion for a quarter of a century was the “new normal” for the world's No.2 economy.
Hong Kong shares followed mainland markets down on Thursday.]]> |||
Hong Kong - Hong Kong shares closed at their lowest in six weeks on Thursday, following mainland markets down, weighed by financial stocks amid concerns over China's economic slowdown.
China announced an economic growth target for 2015 of around 7 percent on Thursday and said it would boost government spending, signalling that the lowest rate of expansion for a quarter of a century is the “new normal” for the world's No.2 economy.
Mainland banks listed in Hong Kong fell on concerns over profitability.
In separate reports published on Thursday, rating agency Moody's Investors Service said Chinese banks were suffering from a narrowing interest rate spread and weakening pricing power, while Standard & Poor's said China's small to mid-sized banks would struggle if property prices plunge.
The Hang Seng index fell 1.1 percent, to 24,193.04, its lowest since end-January, while the China Enterprises Index lost 1.2 percent, to 11,597.77 points.
But some of the most actively traded stocks on Hong Kong's main board were higher. Junyang Solar rose 70.3 percent to HK$0.31, Ali Pictures was up 10.7 percent to HK$2.07 and Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd rose 14.1 percent to HK$7.30.
Total trading volume of companies included in the HSI index was 1.9 billion shares.
Gold climbed as investors assessed the outlook for interest rates before the ECB announces details of its debt-purchase programme.]]> |||
Melbourne - Gold climbed as investors assessed the outlook for interest rates before the European Central Bank announces details of its debt-purchase programme.
Bullion for immediate delivery advanced as much as 0.5 percent to $1,206.03 an ounce and was at $1,204.14 by 1.49pm in Singapore, according to Bloomberg generic pricing. The precious metal is down 0.8 percent this week and fell to $1,195.50 on March 3, the lowest since February 24.
Investors are assessing data for clues on when the Federal Reserve may raise benchmark rates from near zero. A purchasing managers index on services in the US unexpectedly expanded at a faster pace in February, a report showed Wednesday when US stocks fell for a second day. The ECB will leave its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.05 percent and the deposit rate at minus 0.2 percent when it meets in Nicosia, Cyprus, according to all economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
“The market is trying to second guess when rates are going to go up,” said David Lennox, a resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney. While “strong PMI numbers should have given it a downside, the weak US equity market should give it an upside,” he said by phone.
Gold for April delivery increased 0.2 percent to $1,203.50 an ounce on the Comex.
Silver for immediate delivery was little changed at $16.2554 an ounce. Spot palladium rose 0.5 percent to $831.50 an ounce and platinum climbed 0.4 percent to $1,186.75 an ounce.
The rand was on the back foot on Thursday after falling to a three-week low overnight.]]> |||
Johannesburg - South Africa's rand was still on the back foot on Thursday after falling to a three-week low overnight in an emerging market sell-off prompted by expectations of strong US jobs data in the next session.
At 06h44 GMT the rand traded at 11.8280 per dollar, down 0.29 percent from its previous close.
The rand partly tracked the euro, which wallowed near its weakest level in over 11 years against the dollar as investors waited for the European Central Bank to announce more details of its bond-buying programme.
While the euro zone struggles, recent data has pointed to a sustained recovery in the US, suggesting interest rates could soon rise in the world's biggest economy.
“So far this week we have seen the rand, as well as other EM currencies, lose value against the dollar in anticipation of this Friday's employment data out of the US,” Standard Bank executive for rand and EM spot trading Warrick Butler said.
In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark 2026 bond was up 3.5 basis points at 7.795 percent.