In the US, new claims for unemployment insurance (jobless claims) rose by 12,000 to 290,000 in the latest week. The Job Opening and Labour Turnover (JOLTS) figures show job openings fell from a six-year high of 4.853 million in August to 4.725 million in September, below forecasts centred on 4.823m.
In China, retail sales in October were up 11.5 per cent on a year ago while sales in the month rose by 0.98 per cent -- the fastest growth in five months. Production in October was up 7.7 per cent over the year.
European shares rose on Thursday despite weakness in energy companies and oil services companies in response to a lower oil price. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose by 0.2 per cent with the UK FTSE and German Dax both up by 0.4 per cent. In London trade shares in BHP Billiton were unchanged while Rio Tinto gained 0.8 per cent.
US sharemarkets were mixed on Thursday. The lower oil price continued to put downward pressure on energy companies but buoyed shares of airlines and retailers. Shares in United Parcel Services fell by 0.4 per cent on reduced sales guidance. Shares in Wal-Mart rose by 4.6 per cent after the retailer reported a 2.9 per cent increase in third quarter revenue. With just over an hour of trade to go, the Dow Jones was up by almost 18 points, or 0.1 per cent, after holding in a 122 point range. The S&P 500 index was down by 0.2 per cent and the Nasdaq was down by 1.0 point, or less than 0.1 per cent.
US treasuries rose modestly on Thursday (yields lower). US Treasury sold $16 billion in 30-year Treasury bonds, the last leg of the $66 billion in new bond supply issued this week. US two-year yields fell by three points to 0.519 per cent while US 10-year yields fell by 3 points to 2.347 per cent.
Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in European and US trade on Thursday. The euro rose from lows near $US1.2435 to highs near $US1.2485, and was around $US1.2485 in late US trade. The Australian dollar rose from lows near US86.90c to around US87.60c, and was back around US87.25c in late US trade. The Japanese yen held between ¥115.34 per US dollar and ¥115.85 but was near ¥115.72 in late US trade.
World oil prices fell again on Thursday as traders continued to speculate on a cutback of oil production quotas when OPEC members meet on November 27. Saudi Arabia has remained quiet about backing a production cut. US crude stocks fell more than expected last week as refineries boosted output. Brent crude fell by $US2.55 or 3.2 per cent to a 4-year low of $US78.43 a barrel while the US Nymex crude price fell by $US2.97 or 3.8 per cent to $US75.16 a barrel.
Base metal prices fell by up to 1.4 per cent on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday with zinc, tin and nickel leading the declines. Gold rose modestly on Thursday with Comex gold futures up by $US2.40 an ounce or 0.2 per cent to $US1,161.50 per ounce. Iron ore rose by US10c to $US75.50 a tonne on Thursday.
Ahead: In Australia no major economic data is released, In the US, retail sales data is released.
Craig James is the chief economist at CommSec.