Scoreboard: Draghi at the ready

Comments from the European Central Bank president helped lift markets on both sides of the Atlantic, while oil, gold and iron ore prices slid further.

In the US, jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 278,000 last week. The Labor Department also reported that hourly compensation increased at a 2.3 per cent rate in the September quarter. Labour productivity rose at a 0.3 per cent rate in the September quarter after a decline of 0.5 per cent in the June quarter.

European shares rose on Thursday, after the European Central Bank President Draghi said the bank's governing council was unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional measures if needed. Draghi said the ECB aims to increase the size of its balance sheet towards the levels of 2012. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose by 0.2 per cent, the UK FTSE also gained 0.2 per cent and the German Dax lifted by 0.7 per cent. In London trade shares in BHP Billiton were up 0.5 per cent with Rio Tinto down by 0.7 per cent.

US shares rose in a volatile trading session on Thursday. Investors were buoyed by the ongoing stimulus commentary from the ECB although the weakness in the oil price hurt energy stocks. With just over an hour of trade left, the Dow Jones was up by just over 54 points or 0.3 per cent and the S&P 500 index was up by 0.2 per cent while the Nasdaq was higher by 7 points or 0.2 per cent.

US long-dated treasury prices fell on Thursday (yields higher) following the ECB's dovish stance. But traders did remain cautious ahead of the official jobs data on Friday. US two-year yields were flat near 0.542 per cent while US 10-year yields rose 3 points at 2.376 per cent.

Major currencies were weaker against the US dollar in European and US trade on Thursday. The Euro fell from highs near $US1.2535 to lows near $US1.2380, and was near $US1.2385 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US86.25c to a 4-year low around US85.60c, and was near US85.75c in late US trade. The Japanese yen eased from 114.15 yen per US dollar to ¥115.00 and was near ¥114.95 in late US trade.

World oil prices fell on Thursday as worries about high supplies pressured prices. The strong US dollar also added to the weakness. Brent crude fell by US60c or 0.7 per cent to $US82.35 a barrel. US Nymex crude price fell by $US1.05 or 1.3 per cent to $US77.63 a barrel.

Base metal prices were higher on London Metal Exchange on Thursday. Tin (up 1.7 per cent) and nickel (1.2 per cent) lead the gains, while other metals rose between 0.2 per cent-0.9 per cent. Gold slumped to fresh 4-year lows, falling for the seventh straight session on Thursday with Comex gold futures down by $US3.10 an ounce or 0.3 per cent to $US1,142.60 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US40c on Thursday or 0.5 per cent to a 5-year low of $US75.60 a tonne.

Ahead: In Australia, the Reserve bank releases the Statement of Monetary Policy. In the US, no farm payrolls data is released.

Savanth Sebastian is an economist with CommSec.

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