In US economic data, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index rose by 0.6 per cent in November after a similar lift in October. The index is up 6.1 per cent on a year ago. The Philadelphia Fed Index fell from the outsized 40.8 gain in November to 24.5 in December. US jobless claims fell from 295,000 to 289,000 in the past week.
European shares surged on Thursday after a rebound in Greek stocks. The leader of the main opposition party in Greece said he was committed to keeping Greece in the euro should his leftist party win power. The Athens ATG Index erased earlier losses to close up 1.5 per cent. Energy stocks also benefited from a short lived rise in oil prices. The STOXX Europe 600 oil & gas index lifted by 2.7 per cent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose by 3 per cent, the German Dax also gained 2.8 per cent, while the UK FTSE rose by 2 per cent. In London trade shares in BHP Billiton gained 0.2 per cent while Rio Tinto rose 0.4 per cent.
US sharemarkets rallied for the second straight session on Thursday. Upbeat results from Oracle (up 8 per cent) in the prior session continued to support technology stocks. The S&P technology sector lifted 2.2 per cent. At the close of trade, the Dow Jones was up by 421 points or 2.4 per cent. The S&P 500 index was up by 2.4 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 104 points or 2.2 per cent.
US treasuries fell on Thursday (yields higher) as traders continued to digest the commentary from the US Federal Reserve. The better economic data also supported yields. US 2 year yields rose by 2pts to 0.637 per cent while US 10 year yields rose by 7pts to 2.211 per cent.
Major currencies fell against the greenback in European and US trade on Thursday. The euro eased from highs of $US1.2445 to lows near $US1.2265, and was around $US1.2285 in late US trade. The Australian dollar rose from lows near US81.20c to around US82.00 and traded near US81.55c in late trade. And the Japanese yen traded between 118.25 yen per US dollar to ¥119.30 and was near ¥118.75 in late US trade.
World oil prices slid on Thursday, a day after the short-covering rally. Traders continued to speculate on the ongoing lift in oil supply. Brent crude fell by $US1.68 or 2.7 per cent to $US59.50 a barrel, while the US Nymex crude price fell by $US2.36 or 4.2 per cent to $US54.11 a barrel.
Base metal prices fell on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday with the exception of Nickel (up 0.2 per cent). Tin (down 1.8 per cent) recorded the biggest declines followed by lead (down 1.1 per cent). Other metals lost 0.5 per cent-0.9 per cent. Gold rose on Thursday with Comex gold futures up by US30c an ounce or to $US1,194.80 per ounce. Iron ore rose by US10c to $US68 a tonne on Thursday.
Ahead: In Australia and the US no economic data is released.
Savanth Sebastian is an economist at CommSec.