Scoreboard: Calm and confident

Wall Street edged higher as consumer confidence rose to post-GFC highs, while the prospect of further stimulus measures from the ECB boosted European markets.

In US economic data, the CaseShiller home price series fell 0.2 per cent in June, weaker than expectations. But the FHFA home price series rose by 0.4 per cent in June to stand 5.1 per cent higher than a year ago. Durable goods orders rose by 22.6 per cent in July, but excluding aircraft orders, fell by 0.5 per cent, below forecasts of a 0.5 per cent gain. And consumer confidence rose from 90.9 to 92.4, above forecasts for a result near 89.0 and the highest level since October 2007.

European shares rose on Tuesday on the continued prospect of more stimulus from the European Central Bank. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose by 0.75 per cent while the Euro STOXX 50 index rose 1 per cent, posting its best two-day rise since June 2013. The German Dax was up by 0.8 per cent while the UK FTSE gained 0.7 per cent. But Australia's major miners fell in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton down by less than 0.1 per cent while Rio Tinto lost 1 per cent.

US sharemarkets posted modest gains on Tuesday. Consumer confidence rose to post-GFC highs, boosting shares of retailers. But shares in Best Buy lost 6.85 per cent after the electronics retailer forecast a fall in same-store sales. The Dow Jones index lifted by 30 points or 0.2 per cent with the S&P 500 index up by 2.10 points or 0.1 per cent to 2000.02 - the first close above 2,000 points. And the Nasdaq rose by 13 points or 0.3 per cent to fresh 14-year highs.

US treasury prices were flat in thin trade on Tuesday despite firmer US economic data and gains on the sharemarket. US Treasury will sell $35 billion in five-year notes on Wednesday and $29 billion in seven-year notes on Thursday, as well as $13 billion in two-year floating-rate notes on Wednesday. US 2 year yields fell by 2 points to 0.496 per cent while US 10 year yields were flat at 2.394 per cent.

Major currencies ended mixed against the US dollar after European and US sessions on Tuesday. The euro fell from highs near $US1.3215 to around $US1.3165, before ending US trade near $US1.3170. The Australian dollar rose from lows near US92.90c to highs near US93.30c before ending the US session close to US93.05c. And the Japanese yen eased from 103.81 yen per US dollar to JPY104.17, ending US trade near JPY104.03.

World oil prices were mixed on Tuesday. Brent crude fell on continued evidence of ample global supplies of crude despite geopolitical risks. But US Nymex crude rose in response to positive US economic data. Brent crude fell by US15c or 0.1 per cent to $US102.50 a barrel but the US Nymex price lifted by US51c a barrel or 0.5 per cent to $US93.86 a barrel.

Base metal prices were mixed on Tuesday but gains or losses didn't exceed 1.0 per cent. Nickel rose 1 per cent while tin fell 0.6 per cent. Gold prices rose on Tuesday with the Comex gold futures quote up by $US6.30 or 0.5 per cent to $US1,285.20 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US30c or 0.3 per cent on Monday to $US88.90 a tonne.

Ahead: In Australia, construction work data is released. In the US, the Richmond and Dallas Federal Reserve indexes are released.

Craig James is chief economist at Commsec.

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