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Stock markets higher as traders pin hopes on recovery

·3-min read
World oil prices eased as OPEC countries and other crude-producing nations decided to stick to their agreement from just over a month ago to increase output very slowly (AFP/JOE KLAMAR)

Global stock markets mostly rose Wednesday, as investors brushed off lackluster US jobs data and fears about the Delta variant of Covid-19 in the first trading session of the month.

Taking their lead from earlier gains in Asia, Paris closed more than one percent higher and London gained modestly, though Frankfurt declined slightly.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Wall Street ended mixed, with the Dow slipping slightly, the Nasdaq posting a new record and the S&P 500 ending essentially flat.

World oil prices eased as OPEC countries and other crude-producing nations decided to stick to their agreement from just over a month ago to increase output very slowly.

"European markets are on the rise," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at online trading firm IG.

"We have largely seen upward momentum for growth in European manufacturing," he said, pointing to bright PMI survey data for the region.

"There looks to me to be a lot of underlying optimism in the markets, despite the fact that the coming months will no doubt throw up some nasty surprises and businesses are already a little nervous about what the end of the year will bring," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"Of course, with plenty of data to come this week, including Friday's jobs report, the mood could change," he said.

However, economic optimism continues to be tested by the stuttering rollout of vaccines and a spike in infections in some countries, as well as China's drive to tighten its grip on the world's number-two economy with a swath of new regulations for private enterprises.

Indications by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last week that the US central bank will take it easy in winding back its ultra-loose monetary policy -- and be even more cautious in hiking interest rates -- had fueled Wall Street gains earlier this week.

Nevertheless, while the United States remains largely open thanks to a successful vaccine rollout, other countries that have administered fewer jabs are struggling with new waves of Covid-19 and are being forced to impose strict containment measures.

This has tempered hopes that the blockbuster economic recovery seen at the start of the year can be maintained.

Focus is now on the release Friday of US jobs data, which could have a huge bearing on when the Fed decides to start winding down its bond-buying financial support program.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 35,312.53 (close)

New York - S&P 500: FLAT at 4,524.09 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 15,309.38 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,149.55 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 15,824.29 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 6,758.69 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 4,227.27 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 28,451.02 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.6 percent at 26,028.29 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,567.10 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1838 from $1.1809

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3781 from $1.3755

Euro/pound: UP at 85.95 pence from 85.86 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.01 yen from 110.02 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.4 percent at $68.24 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.5 percent at $71.30 per barrel

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