Howd’y USA

In a wide-ranging question and answer session, the US Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, reiterated that monetary policy can remain patient given benign inflation data. Powell says there is no evidence of a broader economic slowdown in the published data. In US economic data, new claims for unemployment insurance fell by 17,000 to 216,000 in the latest week (forecast 225,000).

US share markets traded in and out of positive territory over Thursday's session. Investors dissected weak earnings results from a number of retailers as well as the latest comments from the Federal Reserve chair. With an hour of trade to go the Dow Jones was higher by 15 points or 0.1% after trading in a 277 point range. The S&P500 index was up by 0.1%. The Nasdaq index was up by 5 points or 0.1%.

US treasuries were flat on Thursday. US equities moved in and out of positive territory while economic data was better-than-expected. US Treasury sold $16 billion in 30-year bonds. US 2-year yields were flat at 2.56% and US 10-year yields were flat near 2.73%. 

Major currencies were generally weaker against the US dollar in US and European trade compared with the Asia close. The Euro eased from US$1.1560 to US$1.1485 and was US$1.1500 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar broadly held between US71.70 cents and US 72 cents and was near US71.85 cents in late US trade. And the Japanese yen eased from 107.75 yen per US dollar to JPY108.45 and was near the weakest levels in late US trade.

In the US, the Consumer Price Index is scheduled.   

Bonjour, Europe

European share markets rose again on Thursday on continued optimism about US-China trade talks. But autos was the weakest sector, down 0.3% while UK retailers were softer on sales updates. The pan-European STOXX600 index rose by 0.3% after spending most of the session in negative territory. The UK FTSE was up by 0.5% and German Dax index up by 0.3%. In London trade, shares of Rio Tinto fell by 0.6% with shares in BHP lower by 0.7%.

Top of the morning, London

Base metal prices were mixed on the London Metal Exchange. Zinc and copper fell by up to 1.5% while other metals rose by up to 0.6%.

The gold futures price fell by US$4.60 an ounce or 0.4% to $1,287.40 an ounce. The spot gold price was trading near US$1,287 an ounce in late US trade. Iron ore rose by US15 cents or 0.2% to US$74.65 a tonne. 

Global oil prices rose modestly on Thursday after gains of near 5% in the previous session. Investors await signs of progress on US-China trade talks. But soft Chinese inflation data also weighed on investor sentiment. Brent crude rose by US24 cents or 0.4% to US$61.68 a barrel and the US Nymex price rose by US23 cents or 0.4% to US$52.59 a barrel.

G’day Australia

In Australia, retail trade data is released.