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Showing posts with label ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin Thursday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin Thursday. Show all posts

Aug 9, 2012

ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin Thursday, August 9 2012


ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin  
Daily world financial news

Thursday, 09 August 2012

US Market Reports  
Stocks Showing A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading

Stocks are turning in another lackluster performance in early trading on Thursday after ending the previous session nearly flat. The major averages are showing only modest moves, hovering near their recent three-month highs.

The major averages have moved to the upside in the past few minutes and are currently posting modest gains. The Dow is up 11.70 points or 0.1 percent at 13,187.34, the Nasdaq is up 7.04 points or 0.2 percent at 3,018.29 and the S&P 500 is up 1.40 points or 0.1 percent at 1,403.62.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders express continued uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the recent strength.

While optimism about further monetary stimulus helped to drive stocks higher, traders seem reluctant to continue buying without any official announcement.

At the same time, some upbeat economic data has helped to keep traders from cashing in on the recent gains, with a report from the Labor Department showing an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims.

The report showed that initial jobless claims fell to 361,000 in the week ended August 4th from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 367,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in June from $48.0 billion in May. The trade deficit had been expected to narrow to $47.5 billion.

The narrower than expected trade deficit reflected an increase in the value of exports and a decrease in the value of imports.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although notable strength has emerged among brokerage stocks. The NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index has advanced by 1 percent, with E*Trade (ETFC) leading the way higher on news that CEO Steven Freiberg has left the company.

Steel and computer hardware stocks are also seeing moderate strength in early trading, while modest weakness is visible among airline stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 1.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed over the course of the trading day. While the German DAX Index is down 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index have both edged up by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure, extending a recent downward move. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is jumping 6.5 basis points to a two-month high of 1.705 percent.


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TSX Edges Up At Open Thursday

Toronto stocks edged up at open Thursday amid marginal buying across a variety of sectors, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index adding 20.58 points or 0.17 percent to 11,801.62.

In the oil patch, Crescent Point Energy and Pacific Rubiales Energy were up around 3 percent each. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. gained 2 percent despite posting lower second-quarter net earnings.

Financial sector services provider Davis + Henderson Corp. added over 2 percent even after posting lower second-quarter net income.

Among gold stocks, Royal Gold and Allied Nevada Gold were down around 1 percent each.

Gold miner Kinross Gold slipped nearly 2 percent after reporting lower second-quarter net earnings Gold-focused royalty company Franco-Nevada Corp. eased 0.50 percent after reporting a marginally higher second quarter net profit.

Quick service restaurant chain Tim Hortons Inc. was down 1.50 percent after reporting second-quarter net income that came in-line with consensus estimates.

The price of crude oil was steady near $94 Thursday morning as traders speculated further monetary policy easing by Chinese officials after data showed a fall in Chinese consumer price inflation to a 30-month low in July,

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast at 0.90 mbd and said the summer driving season, the summer heat, and the continued shutdown of most of Japan's nuclear capacity supported demand growth.

Crude for September gained $0.46 to $93.81 a barrel.

The price of gold was flat amid a firm U.S. dollar. Gold for December edged down $2.90 to $1,613.10 an ounce.

In corporate news from Canada, international gold miner Goldcorp Inc. appointed George Burns as its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, replacing Steve Reid.

Gold miner Kinross Gold reported lower second-quarter net earnings of $153.6 million or C$0.13 per share compared to $247.4 million or $0.22 per share a year ago. Adjusted net earnings from continuing operations were $0.14 per share, compared with $0.20 per share in the prior year. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.17 per share this qaurter.

Yamana Gold reported a sharp decline in its second-quarter net earnings at $43 million or $0.06 per share, compared with net earnings of $195 million or $0.26 per share for the second quarter of 2011. Adjusted earnings were $135 million or $0.18 earnings per share in the second quarter of 2012, compared with $186 million or $0.25 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.27 per share this quarter.

Gold-focused royalty company Franco-Nevada Corp. reported a marginally higher second quarter net profit of $36.9 million or $0.26 per basic share compared to $33.3 million or $0.27 per basic share last year. Adjusted income rose to $35.1 million or $0.24 per share from $33.2 million or $0.26 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of C$0.28 per share for this quarter.

West Africa focused gold miner Golden Star Resources swung to profit in second quarter, reporting net income of $2.5 million or $0.01 per share compared to net loss of $5.0 million or $0.02 per share last year. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.04 per share for the quarter.

Base-metals miner Taseko Mines Ltd. reported that its second-quarter adjusted net earnings was C$4.0 million or C$0.02 per share, up from C$1.7 million or C$0.01 per share in the year ago quarter.

CAE Inc. reported lower first-quarter net income of C$21.3 million or C$0.08 per share, down from C$43.1 million or C$0.17 per share in the same quarter last year. Adjusted net income was C$46.7 million or C$0.18 per share, matching consensus estimates

Aerospace and transportation company Bombardier Inc. reported a decline in its second quarter net income at $182 million or $0.10 per share compared to $210 million or $0.12 per share reported last year.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. posted second-quarter net earnings of C$753 million or C$0.68 per share, down from C$929 million or C$0.84 per share last year. Adjusted net earnings per share were C$0.55, versus C$0.56 in the same quarter last year. Analysts were expecting the company to earn C$0.53 per share.

Oil and gas Peyto Exploration & Development Corp. posted second-quarter Funds from Operations of $64.7 million or $0.47 per share, lower than $77.0 million or $0.58 per share in the previous year quarter.

Oil and gas industry services provider Savanna Energy Service Corp. reported a wider second quarter loss of C$7.6 million or C$0.09 per share compared to C$956,000 or C$0.01 per share in the same period last year. Analysts were expecting the company to earn C$0.01 per share.

Oil and gas company Whitecap Resources inc. said its second quarter funds from operations increased to $40.1 million or $0.33 per share from $19.9 million or $0.29 per share in the year-earlier quarter.

Insurer Manulife Financial Corp slipped into the red in second-quarter, reporting net loss of C$300 million, as against a profit of C$490 million last year.

Full-service investment dealer Canaccord Financial Inc. slipped into the red in first quarter, reporting net loss of C$20.6 million or C$0.24 per share, compared to a net profit of C$13.2 million or C$0.16 per share last year. Adjusted loss were C$16.30 million or C$0.20 per share, compared to an adjusted profit of C$14.13 million or C$0.17 per share in the prior-year quarter. Analysts were expecting the company to report loss of C$0.04 per share for the quarter

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European Markets Turn Negative

The major European markets are mostly in negative territory in afternoon trading Thursday, amid profit taking. Earlier in the session, sentiment was influenced by inflation data from China, which gave rise to hopes of further stimulus from the government.

Inflation in China eased for a fourth straight month to reach a 30-month low in July, paving way for the policymakers to go ahead with stimulus measures to counter a slowdown in economic growth. The rate of inflation fell to 1.8 percent in July from 2.2 percent in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Meanwhile, China's producer prices declined for a fifth consecutive month, falling 2.9 percent year-on-year in July.

The Bank of Japan on Thursday decided to keep its stimulus program and key interest rate unchanged as the economy is expected to undergo a moderate recovery path.

The European Central Bank considered the high borrowing costs faced by some euro area sovereigns was mainly driven by fears of a collapse of the euro and must be tackled through fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, the bank's monthly bulletin showed.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.32 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is losing 0.13 percent.

The German DAX is losing 0.66 percent and the French CAC 40 is falling 0.25 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.12 percent while Switzerland's SMI is climbing 0.87 percent.

In Frankfurt, Commerzbank, which reported quarterly results, is leading the decliners by falling 4 percent. Deutsche Bank is gaining 1 percent.

Deutsche Telekom is losing 2.2 percent. The telecommunications firm reported a 76.4 percent jump in second-quarter profit on lower expenses and improved profitability in its U.S. unit, but revenues were hurt mainly by line losses in Germany.

BMW is modestly down, while Volkswagen is climbing 1.6 percent. Daimler is unchanged.

Symrise is up 1.9 percent after profit rose in the second quarter. Commerzbank cut Axel Springer to "Hold" from "Add." The stock is down 0.6 percent. Kloeckner was cut to "Underperform" from "Buy." The stock is falling 2.4 percent.

In Paris, GDF Suez is losing 2 percent. EDF is down 1.5 percent. France Telecom is falling 1.3 percent. Insurer Axa is climbing 2.4 percent. Lenders Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are advancing 1.1 percent each. BNP Paribas is moderately up.

In London, AMEC is declining 7.3 percent, even though first-half profit showed a significant increase. Aviva is down 1.3 percent. The insurer reported a loss for the first half, reflecting mainly a write-down of goodwill in its U.S. business and higher restructuring costs.

Randgold Resources, which reported higher first-half profit, is gaining 2.7 percent. Standard Chartered is advancing 3.8 percent on reports that its chief executive is planning to fight back on Iran allegations.

Nestle is up 3.6 percent in Zurich. The food and nutrition giant said its profit in the first half of the year grew nearly 9 percent from last year, with growth across all its regions, helped partly by pricing. The company also confirmed its full year guidance.

Novo Nordisk is climbing 3 percent in Copenhagen. The firm reported quarterly results.

In the commodity space, crude for September delivery is adding $0.14 to $93.49 per barrel and December gold is losing $0.1 to $1615.9 a troy ounce.

Asia Market Reports
Asian Stocks Edge Higher On China Stimulus Hopes

Asian stocks rose for a fourth day on Thursday as lower inflation in China reinforced expectations that Beijing will loosen its monetary policy further in the second-half to bolster growth.

China's annual consumer inflation fell to a 30-month low of 1.8 percent in July, down from the previous month's 2.2 percent and well below last year's highs, giving Beijing more room to loosen policy.

The benign inflation figures, separate data showing slowing industrial production and retail sales in the world's second-largest economy and worrisome economic news from the euro-area helped keep hopes of further policy easing by the Federal Reserve and ECB intact.

Japanese shares rose sharply, with the Nikkei average topping the 9,000 mark for the first time in about a month, as traders shrugged off the Bank of Japan's decision to refrain from further monetary easing. The Nikkei average ended the session up 1.1 percent, while the broader Topix index closed 0.8 percent higher.

The yen was rather unchanged after the Bank of Japan retained its benchmark uncollateralized overnight call rate at 0-0.1 percent and the overall asset purchase program at JPY 70 trillion. The central bank maintained its assessment that the economy has started to pick up moderately and will return to a moderate recovery path as demand increases.

China-related Fanuc rose 1.8 percent, Komatsu added 0.8 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery edged up 0.4 percent, as benign inflation data lifted hopes for fresh easing measures by Beijing.

Heavyweight Fast Retailing, telcom player Softbank and defensive favorite Japan Tobacco all ended up more than 2 percent each. Steelmakers posted solid gain, with Nippon Steel and JFE Holdings climbing 2-4 percent. Nikon slumped 8.1 percent as it cut annual profit outlook.

China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6 percent, extending gains for a fifth straight session, even as investors remained wary of inflation numbers coming down further in the months ahead. Property developers posted solid gains as weakening industrial output and retail sales growth eased concerns over further tightening measures.

Industrial production increased 9.2 percent in July, missing forecasts for 9.7 percent growth, while retail sales rose 13.1 percent year-over-year compared to forecasts for an increase of 13.5 percent, official data showed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose a percent to a three-month high.

Australian shares fell slightly despite gains in miners on hopes for further easing from China, the nation's key export market. The benchmark swung between gains and losses before ending 0.1 percent lower at 4,308. The Australian dollar hit a 4-1/2 month high after data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 14,000 more people found jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in the month from 5.3 percent the previous month.

Rio Tinto climbed 3.6 percent as the miner said it was sticking to its $16-billion spending plans for the year amid renewed expectations of a pick-up in Chinese economic activity by year-end. BHP Billiton rose 1.6 percent and gold miner Newcrest edged up 0.3 percent. Shares of Telstra fell 2.3 percent after the nation's biggest phone company posted second-half profit that missed analysts' estimates.

Seoul shares soared, with the benchmark Kospi climbing almost 2 percent to a 3-month high after the Bank of Korea kept its key interest rate unchanged, in line with expectations. Data released after the market close showed that overseas investors bought shares worth 1.55 trillion won on a net basis, the highest in 13 months on a daily basis, buoyed by hopes of decisive action by major central banks to stimulate growth and cope with the European debt crisis.

New Zealand shares ended little changed with a positive bias following mixed leads from overseas markets and amid caution ahead of the earnings season. The benchmark NZX-50 index edged up 2 points or 0.05 percent to 3,584. Construction firm Fletcher Building rose 0.8 percent and carpet maker Cavalier gained 1.9 percent after data from the Real Estate Institute showed New Zealand home sales climbed 20 percent in July.

Casino and hotel operator SkyCity Entertainment rose 1.4 percent, outdoor clothing and equipment firm Kathmandu Holdings advanced 1.8 percent and Heartland, the would-be bank, added 1.9 percent. Utility Contact Energy slumped 4 percent after Meridian Energy said Rio Tinto's Pacific Aluminum unit wants to change the terms of a new power contract for the smelter at Bluff. Mainfreight ended unchanged after the logistics firm reported a 15 percent fall in first-quarter profit.

India's benchmark Sensex was last trading down 0.4 percent after global brokerages cut India's growth forecast for the year and government data showed India's industrial output shrank by 1.8 percent in June, marking the third decline in four months, due to a sharp contraction in manufacturing production.

Elsewhere, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was up a percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite rose 0.4 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average rallied 1.6 percent. Financial markets in Singapore were closed for a public holiday.

Commodities
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Crude Steady Near $94; OPEC Maintains Forecast

The price of crude oil was steady near $94 Thursday morning as traders speculated further monetary policy easing by Chinese officials after data showed a fall in Chinese consumer price inflation to a 30-month low in July

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast at 0.90 mbd and said the summer driving season, the summer heat, and the continued shutdown of most of Japan's nuclear capacity supported demand growth.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for September delivery, edged up $0.14 to $93.49 a barrel. Yesterday, oil leveled off from its 3-month high as traders preferred profit taking even after an Energy Information Administration report showed U.S. crude stockpiles to have declined more than expected last week.

Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA said that U.S. crude oil inventories dipped by 3.70 million barrels and gasoline stocks eased 1.80 million barrels in the weekended August 03.

This morning, the U.S. dollar moved back to a weekly high versus the euro, while trading higher against sterling. The buck continued to pare losses versus the Swiss franc, while moving lower against the yen.

In economic news from the euro zone, U.K.'s visible trade gap widened to GBP 10.1 billion in June from GBP 8.4 billion in May, the Office for National Statistics said. The expected level of deficit was GBP 8.7 billion.

Traders will look to the data on trade balance from the U.S. Commerce Department at 8.30 a.m ET. Economists estimate that the trade gap narrowed to $47.5 billion in the month from a deficit of $48.7 billion in the previous month.

Simultaneously, the Labor Department will release its jobless claims report for the week ended August 04. Economists expect claims to edge up to 367,000 in the recent reporting week from 365,000 in the previous week.

Aug 2, 2012

ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin Thursday, 02 August 2012


ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin
Daily world financial news

Thursday, 02 August 2012

US Market Reports
Stocks Regain Ground Following Initial Downward Move

After closing lower in the three previous sessions, stocks saw some further downside at the start of trading on Thursday. The major averages slide firmly into negative territory, although selling pressure waned not long after the open.

The major averages have climbed well off their lows for the young session but currently remain in the red. The Dow is down 81.28 points or 0.6 percent at 12,889.78, the Nasdaq is down 2.78 points or 0.1 percent at 2,917.43 and the S&P 500 is down 8.31 points or 0.6 percent at 1,36.83.

The initial weakness on Wall Street was partly due to a negative reaction to comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who traders felt failed to live up to last week's promise to do whatever is necessary to support the beleaguered eurozone.

Speaking at a press conference following the ECB's monetary policy meeting, Draghi told reporters that the central bank "may undertake outright open market operations." Traders seemed disappointed that there was not more conviction behind Draghi's remarks.

Carl Weinberg, Chief Economist at High Frequency Economics, said, "Once again, we have no commitment to action from the ECB, and no execution of promises previously made."

"Nothing seems set to happen now," he added. "Traders and investors who expected immediate action are, and should be, disappointed."

The markets did not see much follow-through on the early downward move, however, as traders shifted their focus to tomorrow's monthly U.S. jobs report from the Labor Department.

Ahead of the monthly report, the Labor Department released a report showing a smaller than expected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended July 28th.

The report showed that initial jobless claims crept up to 365,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 357,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to climb to 370,000 from the 353,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Nonetheless, natural gas stocks continue to see considerable weakness on the day, as reflected by the 2.3 percent loss being posted by the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index. Apache and Williams are posting notable losses are reporting their quarterly results.

Brokerage, biotechnology, and steel stocks are also seeing significant weakness, with Knight Capital Group once again leading the brokerage sector lower after revealing that a trading glitch resulted in a $440 million loss.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned lower over the course of the trading day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.5 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index have tumbled by 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing notable strength on the heels of the headlines out of Europe. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 5.3 basis points at 1.486 percent.

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TSX Dips At Open Thursday

Toronto stocks dipped at open Thursday amid selling across a variety of sectors, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index losing 103.50 points or 0.89 percent to 11,515.03.

The Energy Index was down over 1 percent, with Petrominerales diving over 13 percent after reporting a much lower third quarter net earnings.

Cenovus Energy and Suncor Energy lost around 2 percent each. Oil transporter Enbridge Inc. shed nearly 2 percent after posting a steep decline in its second-quarter earnings.

International gold miner Centerra Gold was down 2 percent after slipping into the red in second-quarter. Financial services company Home Capital Group eased 0.50 percent even after reporting improved second quarter net income.

Meanwhile, base-metals miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. edged up 1 percent even after reporting a lower second-quarter net earnings.

The price of crude oil was firm near $90 Thursday morning as demand worries eased amid falling inventories. Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA revealed that U.S. crude oil stocks dived 6.50 million barrels and gasoline stocks shed 2.20 million barrels in the weekended July 27. Crude for September edged down $0.72 to $88.19 a barrel.

Financial services company Home Capital Group reported improved second quarter net income of C$53.2 million or C$1.54 per share compared to C$48.2 million or C$1.38 per share for the year-ago quarter. Excluding a tax adjustment, net income for the latest quarter was C$55.2 million or C$1.60 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report a earn C$1.53 per share this quarter.

Software solutions provider Constellation Software Inc. reported second quarter net income of $17.59 million or $0.83 per share down from $55.99 million or $2.64 per share in the year-ago period. However excluding items, adjusted net income rose to $36.16 million or $1.71 per share from $33.51 million or $1.58 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Insurance services provider Great-West Lifeco Inc. reported second quarter net profit of C$491 million or C$0.517 per share, lower than C$526 million or C$0.553 per share last year. Analysts were expecting the company to report a earn C$0.48 per share this quarter.

Communications and consumer electronics company Wi-Lan Inc. reported second-quarter GAAP net loss of $0.1 million, or breakeven per share, compared to GAAP earnings of $10.3 million, or $0.08 per share in the same period last year. Adjusted earnings were $10.1 million or $0.08 per share compared to $20.8 million or $0.17 per share in the comparative period. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.08 per share.

Oil transporter Enbridge Inc. posted a steep decline in its second-quarter earnings at C$11 million or C$0.01 per share compared to C$302 million or C$0.40 per share last year. However, adjusted earnings per share were C$0.36 up from C$0.34 in the same quarter a year ago. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.38 per share.

International pharmaceuticals company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. slipped into the red in second quarter, reporting net loss of $21.6 million or $0.07 per share for the quarter compared to a profit of $56.36 million or $0.17 per share last year.

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European Stocks Broadly Higher At Mid-day

European stocks rose for a second day on Thursday as investors await key interest rate decisions in the eurozone and Britain. Investor mood remains slightly upbeat after German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the European Central Bank and the euro zone's permanent rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, were planning coordinated action to buy Spanish and Italian government bonds.

Meanwhile, Spain successfully raised more than the maximum target of EUR 3 billion from its debt auction at higher costs, with 10-year bond yields inching up to 6.647 percent, up from the 6.43 percent paid at the prior auction on July 5.

The Euro STOXX 50 Index is currently up 0.63 percent, while the broader Stoxx Europe 50, which also includes U.K. stocks, is moving up 0.72 percent. Around Europe, the German DAX, France's CAC 40, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and Switzerland's SMI are moving up between 0.3 percent and 0.9 percent.

The Bank of England will announce its latest interest rate decision in a short while from now, while the ECB's decision is due at 7.45 am ET. As expectations remain high for strong European Central Bank action to quell the region's sovereign debt crisis, there is considerable scope for disappointment.

Asian markets ended on a mixed note after the Federal Reserve moved a step closer to pumping additional stimulus, but didn't announce any measures following last month's extension of Operation Twist. Offering a sobering assessment of the U.S economy, the Fed predicted that economic growth would remain moderate over the coming quarters.

In stock specific action, shares of Deutsche Post DHL are climbing 4.2 percent after the German postal and logistics firm lifted its fiscal 2012 forecast for EBIT, a key earning metric.

Continental AG is rallying 3.3 percent after the tire maker reported higher second quarter net income and sales. Airliner Lufthansa is climbing 3 percent after it posted operating profit that beat consensus estimates.

ING Group is moving up 0.4 percent in Amsterdam after the company said it is reviewing strategic options for ING Direct Canada and ING Direct UK.

In economic releases, eurozone industrial producer prices fell 0.5 percent month-over-month in June, the same rate of decline as seen in the prior month, Eurostat reported. Economists had expected a more modest decrease of 0.4 percent. On a yearly basis, inflation eased to 1.8 percent from 2.3 percent in May.

Separately, data from Markit Economics showed that the U.K. construction sector logged a bigger than expected growth in July, driven by an increase in commercial output. The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 50.9 in July from 48.2 in June. The reading was forecast to rise to 48.7.

Asia Market Reports
Asian Stocks End Lower Ahead Of ECB

Most stock markets in the Asian region ended lower Thursday after the Federal Reserve yesterday disappointed traders by refraining from any new stimulus measures in their latest decision on monetary policy. In a sign that policy makers are concerned with the pace of the recovery, Federal Open Market Committee members repeated their promise to keep interest rates at zero until late 2014.

However, hopes of stimulus measure from the European Central Bank supported stocks.

In the commodities markets, the price of crude oil was extending gains Thursday after an official data revealed U.S. crude oil stocks plummeted last week amid lower imports. Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA revealed that U.S. crude oil stocks dived 6.50 million barrels and gasoline stocks shed 2.20 million barrels in the weekended July 27.

The price of gold slipped back near $1,600 as the U.S. dollar was trading firm after Federal Reserve refrained from any new stimulus measures.

The Japanese market settled marginally higher, recovering from previous session's steep losses, with the Nikkei Index edging up 11.33 points or 0.13 percent to 8,653.18 as investors lapped up stocks that were battered Wednesday.

Seiko Epson Corp edged up from its historical low, adding just over 1 percent and Sumitomo Heavy Industries recovered 2 percent today, after falling about 15 percent in the previous session. Meanwhile, Fast Retailing shed close to 3 percent as traders turned cautious ahead of its earnings reports, due out after the market hours.

Meanwhile, the China's Shanghai Composite index extended losses for a third session, easing 12.18 points or 0.57 percent to 2,118.18. Real estate stocks were the major losers amid speculation that the government is keen in cooling down the red-hot real estate market.

The Hong Kong market snapped its 5-day winning streak to end lower, with the Hang Seng Index surrendering 130.18 points or 0.66 percent to 19,690.20. Traders overlooked better-than-estimated retail sales data out of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's retail sales increased at a faster pace in June, and the rate of growth exceeded economists' expectations, data released by the Census and Statistics Department showed Thursday.

Poly Real Estate Group Co. and Beijing Capital Development Co. were among the notable losers, dipping close to 10 percent each. China Railway Construction Corp. slipped over 2 percent amid reports that the real estate company is eying for a 15 percent stake in an Italian soccer club.

On the other hand, Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. ended as a notable gainer on speculation that the steel company would opt for buy back its shares.

In Hong Kong, heavyweight stocks HSBC Holdings PLC and China Mobile Ltd. were down about 1 percent each.

Australia stocks ended marginally higher after retail sales data came in better-than-estimated. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged up 6.7 points or 0.16 percent, at 4,269.50, a 10-week high and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 7.40 points or 0.17 percent, at 4,290.10.

Stocks in New Zealand ended near a three-month high helped by upsurges in telecommunications and construction stocks, with the NZX 50 index rising 33.46 points or 0.9 percent to 3564.11.

Shares of Telecom rose close to 2 percent and telecommunications network operator Chorus added over 1 percent. Country's largest construction company, Fletcher Building was under the buyers' radar ahead of its earnings reports.

Elsewhere, the South Korean Kospi shed 10.53 points or 0.56 percent to 1,869.40. Samsung Electronics lost close to 3 percent on profit taking as the stock moved near a 3-month high int eh previous session. Markets in Singapore and India were in the red, while Malaysian stocks settled marginally higher.

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Crude Steady Near $90

The price of crude oil was firm near $90 Thursday morning as demand worries eased amid falling inventories. Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for September delivery, edged up $0.27 to $89.18 a barrel. Yesterday, oil ended higher after an official data revealed U.S. crude oil stocks plummeted last week amid lower imports.

Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA revealed that U.S. crude oil stocks dived 6.50 million barrels and gasoline stocks shed 2.20 million barrels in the weekended July 27.

This morning, the U.S. dollar was paring recent gains versus the euro and ticking lower against sterling. The buck was moving lower versus the yen and the Swiss franc.

In economic news, euro zone industrial producer prices fell 0.5 percent month-on-month in June, the same rate of decline as seen in the prior month, Eurostat reported. The rate was marginally bigger than the expected decrease of 0.4 percent.

The Bank of England today maintained the asset purchase programme at GBP 375 billion and the key interest rate at a historic low of 0.50 percent, as widely expected.

The European Central Bank is likely to leave its benchmark interest rate at its record low of 0.75 percent. The bank will announce its rate decision at 7.45 am ET.

Traders will look to the weekly jobless claims data from the U.S. Labor Department, due out at 8.30 a.m ET. Economists expect claims to increase to 370,000 in the recent reporting week from 353,000 in the previous week.

Later during the session, the Commerce Department will release its report on factory goods orders for June. Economists estimate a 0.7 percent increase in orders for factory goods, the same pace of increase as in the previous month.

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