U.S. stocks inched slightly higher Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose just 3 points to 15,464.30, the S&P500 added 5 points, finishing at 1,680.19 and the Nasdaq rose 0.6 percent to close at the highest level since September 2000.
U.S. stocks first soared back into record territory Thursday, as investors welcomed comments from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke who on Wednesday said monetary policy would remain "highly accommodative" for the foreseeable future.
The statement implied that the central bank would continue its massive program of quantitative easing, and helped soothe investors who have been whipsawed by tapering talk that began in late May.
In economic news, producer prices rose by 0.8 percent in June, above forecasts for a 0.5 percent gain. But core prices rose 0.2 percent, just ahead of the 0.1percent expected gain. Consumer sentiment eased from 84.1 to 83.9 in July.
Global oil prices powered higher pushed in part by a spike in gasoline prices and renewed market optimism about US demand. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for August, leaped $US1.04 from Thursday to finish at $US105.95 a barrel. The European benchmark, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August, climbed $US1.08 to settle at $US108.81 in London trade.
Gold prices edged lower as a stronger US dollar and disappointment over gold purchases by top consumer India offset support from weaker US data. The most actively traded contract, for August delivery, on Friday fell $US2.30, or 0.2 per cent, to settle at $US1,277.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile
Copper closed lower on the London Metal Exchange (LME), weighed by a strong US dollar and concern over demand for the commodity from top metals consumer China. At the PM kerb close on Friday, the LME's flagship three-month copper contract was down 0.7 per cent at $US6,953 a metric ton. Aluminium fared better, ending the session 0.5 per cent higher at $US1,843 a ton.
The Aussie dollar edged below 90 US cents late on Friday. The Aussie touched 89.98 US cents on offshore trade after China's finance minister was quoted as saying the world's second largest economy was growing at a slower pace than the previously forecast 7.5 per cent.
In the week ahead, the Australian share market is expected to open higher following modest gains in the US late on Friday, but a key reading of Chinese growth could influence market sentiment. China GDP data out at midday today is expected to show the world's largest economy grew 1.8 per cent in the June quarter, taking the annual rate to 7.5 per cent.
Lending finance and car sales data is released today followed by RBA minutes for July board meeting on Tuesday. Wednesday, Westpac business lending for May and on Thursday we can expect NAB business confidence for the second quarter along with RBA foreign exchange transactions for June.
In the U.S. retail sales data is expected together with business sales/inventories and the New York Fed manufacturing data. Tuesday, its June CPI, industrial production and the NABHB housing index. Wednesday, housing starts for June, building permits and the Fed's Beige book. The Philadelphia Fed Index along with leading indicators for June rounds off the week on Thursday.