Stocks in the U.S closed modestly higher Friday, but the Dow and S&P posted their worst weekly loss for the year after investors were rattled over slowdown fears in China and weak economic news from the euro zone.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 34.59 points, or 0.27 percent, to close at 13,080.73 snapping a 3 day losing streak. The S&P500 climbed 4.33 points, or 0.31 percent, to finish at 1,397.11, whilst the Nasdaq rose 4.60 points, or 0.15 percent, to end at 3,067.92.
Stocks had been under pressure for most of the week amid worries of a global slowdown and on the heels of some tepid economic news in the U.S.
New home sales posted an unexpected loss of 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 313,000-unit annual rate in February, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected sales at a 325,000-unit rate, according to a Reuters poll. Still, the median price rose 8.3 percent to $233,700, the highest level since June.
European shares recorded small gains on Friday. But key indices ended the week sharply lower after the release of soft indicators in both China and Europe.
The US dollar lost ground against major currencies on Friday. The Euro rose from lows around US$1.3190 to US$1.3290, and was near US$1.3265 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar rose from lows around US103.70c to US104.80c and was near US104.60c in late US trade and the Japanese yen lifted from 82.90 yen per US dollar to JPY82.00 and was near JPY82.30 in late US trade.
Benchmark crude oil prices rose sharply on Friday in response to news that Iranian oil exports have slumped in response to sanctions by Western nations. Industry consultant Petrologistics said Iran�s crude exports have fallen by 14 percent in March. The US Nymex rose by US$1.52 or 1.4 percent to US$106.87 a barrel while London Brent crude rose by US$1.99 to US$125.13 a barrel. Nymex fell by 19c over the week while Brent lost 97c or 0.8 percent.
Base metal prices rose on Friday as bargain hunters moved in after the sharp falls in metal prices over the week. Metals rose between 0.5-1.0 percent but nickel lost 1.5 percent. Over the week metals fell up to 4.8 percent although copper lost only 1.4 percent. The gold price rose on Friday, driven by a higher oil price, posting its biggest one day gain for a month. The April Comex gold price was up by US$19.90 or 1.2 percent to US$1,662.40 an ounce. Over the week gold rose by 0.3 percent.
Ahead in economic news, tonight sees the Chicago Fed national activity index and pending home sales in the U.S, Tuesday brings the Case-Shiller house price index, consumer confidence, and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index.
On Wednesday it's the all important durable goods orders and on Thursday the final revision of the December quarter GDP is released. Friday wraps up with the Chicago PMI, personal income and spending and the fortnightly consumer sentiment read.
The UK will also provide a revision to its December quarter GDP number this week, on Wednesday, while in Europe Germany's influential IFO survey is out tonight.
It's a very quiet week in Australia economically, with the only highlights being the release of the RBA's Financial Stability Review on Wednesday, and private sector credit and new home sales on Friday.
Nufarm (NUF) will be the only company reporting earnings this week.