Australian Stock Market Report – Morning 2/21/14

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By Craig James, CommSec Chief Economist | February 21, 2014 10:24 AM EST

US MORNING REPORT
(8am AEDT)

In US economic data, consumer prices rose by 0.1% in January to be up 1.6% over the year. Analysts had expected prices to rise by 0.1%. US Markit Flash PMI rose from 53.7 to 56.7 in January - its fastest pace in nearly four years. The gains were largely due to a lift in the new orders component which was at its highest level since May 2010. US jobless claims fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000 last week.

European shares were mixed on Thursday, paring most of the losses in late trade following better US economic data. However resource stocks were hit hard after China´s flash PMI fell to a seven month low. The European basic resources index fell by 1.1%. Europe´s biggest defence contractor BAE Systems fell 8.3% and dragged the industrial sector lower after warning its earnings could fall by 10% this year. The FTSEurofirst 300 index closed flat while the UK FTSE lifted by 0.2% and the German Dax fell by 0.4%. Mining shares were mixed in London trade with BHP Billiton shares up by 0.7% while Rio Tinto lost 0.9%.

US sharemarkets rallied on Thursday as the lift in US manufacturing data to a four-year high offsetting weak earnings results. Wal-Mart Stores fell 1.8% after reporting a drop in US same-store sales and gave a disappointing earnings outlook. At the close of trade, the US Dow Jones was up by 93 points or 0.6% and the S&P 500 was up by 0.6% while the Nasdaq gained 30 points or 0.7%.

US long-term treasury prices fell on Thursday (yields higher) following the rather upbeat US flash manufacturing data. US 2 year yields fell by 1 point to 0.32% while US 10 year yields rose by 2 points to 2.76%.

Major currencies fell against the greenback after the euro zone and Chine PMI readings came in well below expectations. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.3760 to US$1.3690 and was near US$1.3715 in afternoon US trade. The Aussie dollar touched early lows near US89.35c before lifting to US90.10c and was holding near its highs in afternoon US trade. And the Japanese yen eased from 101.65 yen per US dollar to JPY102.45 and was trading near JPY102.25 in afternoon US trade.

US oil prices eased from four-month highs on Thursday after US government data showed that the harsh winter weather continued to fuel demand for heating oil. US crude stockpiles fell by an expected 1.73 million barrels last week. Distillate inventories fell by 339,000 barrels. Brent crude fell by US22c to US$110.29 a barrel while US Nymex crude fell by US39c or 0.4% to US$102.92 a barrel.

Base metal prices were mostly weaker on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday with the exception of aluminium (+0.2%). The other metals fell between 0.4-1.5%. The gold price fell on Thursday with the Comex gold futures down by US$3.50 or 0.3% to US$1,316.90 per ounce. The iron ore price fell by US$1 to US$122.90 a tonne.

Ahead: In Australia no economic data is released. In the US, existing home sales are released.

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