Scoreboard: Iron ore squeeze

The fall in the iron ore price took some of the wind out of the Australian dollar’s sails, while tech stocks drove the Nasdaq higher.

Well, what to say? There was a distinct lack of action across most markets last night and a distinct lack of news. Data-wise we only saw European construction figures and they weren’t great, falling 0.6 per cent in March. Then again, that comes after a 0.4 per cent gain the month prior and construction is rising -- up over 5 per cent for the year. Not bad overall.

Most of the news flow we did see was company-specific; AT&T took a hit after agreeing to buy DirectTV and AstraZeneca slumped after rejecting a final merger offer from Pfizer. Otherwise the drop in iron ore prices below $100 is getting a lot of attention, and while the Australian dollar is weaker as a result, the move is only marginal. Fair enough too, we’ve been here before, many times before.

Equities saw a modest bid on Wall Street, with the S&P500 up 0.4 per cent to 1885, the Dow rose 20pts to 16511, while the Nasdaq was up 0.9 per cent (4090). Tech stocks clearly were a key outperformer for the session, with healthcare and financial stocks also found a decent bid. Utilities were smashed, while consumer good stocks tended to fall as well.

Over in Europe, the Dax rose 0.3 per cent, the CaC was up 0.3 per cent, while the FTSE100 was flatish -- up 0.05 per cent. There didn’t seem to be any major reaction to yet another announcement from Russian President Vladimir Putin that troops along the border with Ukraine have been pulled back -- probably because a new announcement on the issue every other week.

Forex markets saw very light trading again, the euro only bouncing around on a 25 pips range. At the time of writing the unit was little changed at 1.3709. It’s a similar story for British pound, which is at 1.6818, while the Australian dollar fell just over 22 pips to be at 0.9328. The Japanese yen sits just above target at 101.5.

Rates rose slightly in the US. The 10-year bond yield was up about 2bp to 2.54 per cent, the 5-year did little and sits at 1.54 per cent and the 2-year is 0.34 per cent. Aussie future in turn fell 2 ticks on the 3s (97.16) and 4 ticks on the 10s (96.285).

Commodities trading saw a mixed session with little in the way of a clear theme. Gold was off smalls -- effectively flat at $1293, while silver was up 0.2 per cent. Copper pushed a little higher than hat with a 0.4 per cent rise, while in the crude space, Brent fell 0.3 per cent to $109.4, while WTI rose 0.6 per cent to $102.6.

Markets today. Aussie stocks look set to have an okay session today, the SPI pointing to gains of around 0.5 per cent. Outside of that the main focus for domestic investors today will probably be the RBA’s minutes at 11.30am (AEST). We know they’re on hold, I don’t think any of that’s going to change for now, but we may get sense as to how dovish this board still is. Not much outside of that. UK inflation data is out tonight and we have two Fed speakers -- the Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, who is a voter this year and the New York Fed President William Dudley who is a voter every year.

Have a great day.