Scoreboard: Confidence cooler

Wall Street fell on disappointing consumer confidence data, while European shares gained on ECB stimulus prospects.

In US economic data, consumer confidence fell from 92.4 to 86 in September, well below forecasts centred on a result near 92.5. The Chicago purchasing managers index eased from 64.3 to 60.5. The Case Shiller home price index fell 0.5 per cent in July but was still up 6.7 per cent over the year. And chain store sales rose 4.3 per cent in the latest week compared with a year ago, up from 3.7 per cent.

European shares generally rose on Tuesday on hopes that weak European inflation data could prompt more stimulus from the European Central Bank. Eurozone inflation was just 0.3 per cent in September. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose by 0.7 per cent while the German Dax rose by 0.6 per cent, but the UK FTSE lost 0.4 per cent. And Australia's major miners were weaker in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton down by 0.3 per cent while Rio Tinto fell by 0.6 per cent.

US sharemarkets were softer on Tuesday as investors positioned ahead of Friday's jobs report. The Dow Jones index held in a 74 point/-54 point range before ending down by 28 points, or 0.2 per cent. The broader S&P 500 index fell by 0.3 per cent while the Nasdaq lost 12.5 points or 0.3 per cent.

US long-term treasury prices fell on Tuesday as investors started to square positions ahead of key economic data, especially Friday's jobs report. Also Reuters reports: "The New York Federal Reserve saw record demand for its reverse repurchase agreement operation on Tuesday as banks and money funds sought Treasuries to balance books for quarter-end." US 2-year yields were flat at 0.583 per cent while US 10-year yields rose by 2 points to 2.502 per cent.

Major currencies were generally weaker against the greenback over the European and US sessions on Tuesday. The US dollar index hovered near 4-year highs. The euro fell from highs near $US1.2700 to lows near $US1.2570, ending US trade near the $US1.2625. The Australian dollar fell from highs near US87.65c to lows around US87.05c before ending the US session near US87.50c. And the Japanese yen eased from ¥109.22 per US dollar to ¥109.83, ending US trade near ¥109.65.

World oil prices slumped on Tuesday to two-year lows in response to end-quarter position-squaring and a firm US dollar. Also a Reuters survey showed OPEC production lifted to two-year highs in September. Brent crude fell by $US2.53 or 2.6% to $US94.67 a barrel while the US Nymex crude price fell by $US3.41 a barrel or 3.6 per cent to $US91.16 a barrel.

Base metal prices were generally lower on Tuesday. Nickel fell by 2.2 per cent while lead bucked the trend, up 0.2 per cent. Gold prices fell on Tuesday with the Comex gold futures quote down by $US7.20 an ounce or 0.6 per cent to $US1,211.60 per ounce. Gold lost almost 6 per cent in September. Iron ore fell by US20c a tonne to $US77.50 a tonne.

Ahead: In Australia, the RP Data home value index is released with retail trade, engineering construction and the Performance of Manufacturing index. In China the official purchasing managers index is released. In the US, auto sales data is released with the ADP employment index, ISM manufacturing index and construction spending.

Craig James is chief economist at Commsec.

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