Stocks in the U.S. recovered from their lows Friday to close narrowly mixed, but the S&P500 managed to pull off its seventh- straight week higher, logging the longest weekly win streak in over two years.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 8.37 points, to close at 13,981.76. The S&P500 slipped 1.59 points, to end at 1,519.79. And the Nasdaq dipped 6.63 points, to finish at 3,192.03.
Meanwhile, the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers met in Moscow to discuss fears of competitive currency devaluations. Angel Gurria, secretary general for the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) dismissed concerns about competitive currency devaluations, which originally came into focus when Japan's new leadership launched a program of aggressive monetary stimulus, causing the yen to plummet.
In commodity markets, oil prices sank on Friday and Brent futures were heading for their first weekly loss since mid-January after an unexpected dip in U.S. industrial production spurred concerns about lagging economic activity. Brent futures for April delivery tumbled to a low of $US116.28 per barrel, down $US1.72, before recovering slightly to $US116.83. U.S. crude shed $US1.77 to $US95.54 per barrel.
Base metal prices were again mixed on the London Metals Exchange on Friday. Zinc, copper and tin eased up to 0.8 percent while other metals rose up to 1.1 percent. Over the week metals were also mixed. Aluminium rose 2.3 percent while zinc lost 1.6 percent. And the gold price slumped, extending a week-long trend when several bearish factors, including the rise of the dollar ahead of the G20 meeting. The Comex April gold futures price was down by US$28.00 an ounce to US$1,607.50 per ounce. Over the week gold fell by 3.7 percent.
Major currencies fell against the US dollar in European and US trade on Friday. The Euro eased from highs near US$1.3390 to close near US$1.3360 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from US103.70c to near US102.85c and was near US103.05c at the US close. And the Japanese yen eased from 92.21 yen per US dollar to JPY93.83, and was trading near JPY93.48 at the US close.
On the economic front, consumer sentiment improved to 76.3 in February, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's index. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a reading of 74.8. And manufacturing in New York state unexpectedly jumped to 10.0 from -7.8 in February, according to the New York Federal Reserve, gaining for the first time since July. Economists expected a reading of -2.0.
Meanwhile, industrial production unexpectedly slipped 0.1 percent in January, according to the Federal Reserve, dragged by weak manufacturing and mining, Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a gain of 0.2 percent.
The Australian sharemarket is expected to open in positive territory as investors focus on the busiest week in profit season following a flat lead from Wall Street.
Earnings season kicks into high gear this week. Companies expected to report first half results today include BlueScope, Amcor and Lend Lease, while BHP, Qantas, AMP and Crown also report throughout the week.
In economic news this week, new car sales data is released today and in the U.S., markets are closed for Presidents' Day public holiday.
On Tuesday, we can expect the RBA to release minutes of February rates meeting and in the U.S. NAHB housing market index.
Wednesday, ABS wage price index for December and in the U.S. housing starts, producer price production and the FOMC minutes.
Thursday, whilst there is no major economic releases in Australia it will be a busy day for the States. The U.S. we can expect consumer price index, jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed Survey, leading indicators including oil inventories.
Friday, no major economic data is expected.