Stocks in the U.S closed more than 1 percent higher in a holiday-shortened Friday session, led by strength in big-cap tech stocks. Volume was thin following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
European stocks had their best week so far this year, boosted on Friday by strong German business confidence data and growing expectations Greece will receive more aid.
Greece said the International Monetary Fund had relaxed its debt-cutting target for the country, suggesting lenders were closer to a deal for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But other sources involved in the talks cautioned the funding gap was far bigger than Greece has suggested, according to Reuters.
The Euro rose from lows near US$1.2880 to US$1.2985, and was around US$1.2975, following strength in the European markets. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US103.90c to highs around US104.70c and was near US104.60c at the US close. And the Japanese yen weakened from 82.06 yen per US dollar to JPY82.47 and was near JPY82.41 at the close of US trade.
World crude oil prices rose in thin trade on Friday in response to a weaker greenback. Protests in Egypt sparked concerns about oil supplies in the Middle East. Brent crude rose by US83c to US$111.38 and US January Nymex crude lifted by US90c or 1.0 percent to US$88.28 a barrel. Over the week, Brent rose by 2.2 percent while Nymex gained 1.9 percent.
Base metal prices rose up to 2.3 percent on the London Metals Exchange on Friday with aluminium and zinc leading the way. Over the week, metal prices rose between 1.6-4.2 percent with lead up the least and nickel posting the strongest gain. The gold price was also up strongly with the December Comex gold futures higher by US$23.20 an ounce or 1.3 percent to US$1,714.70 an ounce. Gold rose by 2.1 percent over the week. And the spot iron ore price rose by 20c on Friday to US$118.90 a tonne but lost $3.90 over the week.
Ahead in economic news, it’s a quiet week on the Australian economic calendar with no major releases today whilst in the US, the Dallas Fed index is released together with the National Activity index.
For the States, Tuesday will bring Durable goods orders, The Case-Schiller home price index consumer confidence. Wednesday new home sales and the Beige book. Thursday weekly jobless claims, GDP and pending home sales and personal income. Consumer spending and Chicago PMI rounds off the week on Friday.
In equities news, Challenger Limited and FlexiGroup have annual general meetings scheduled.
National Australia Bank chairman Dr Michael Chaney and Rio Tinto's managing director for China Ian Bauert are among the speakers due to address the University of Western Australia In The Zone conference.