Scoreboard: Rates apathy

Wall Street remained subdued despite reassurance a rate hike is still a way off, while major currencies pushed higher against the US dollar.

US San Francisco Fed President John Williams (non-voter) spoke overnight and reiterated that he does not expect the Fed to raise interest rates "for some time". Although he did not specify what time period he had in mind, he has previously said that he expects a move in the second half of 2015.

In US economic data, pending home sales increase by 6.1 per cent in May to an eight month high. The ISM Chicago business barometer fell from 65.5 to 62.6 in May, mildly below expectations.

European shares were mixed on Monday, with traders squaring positions ahead of the end of the June quarter. Travel stocks were weaker after a broker downgrade for easyJet (down 6.4 per cent). The European travel and leisure index lost 0.6 per cent. The European banking index lost 0.7 per cent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index was largely flat, the German Dax gained 0.2 per cent while the UK FTSE lost 0.2 per cent. Australia's major miners finished weaker in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton down by 1.3 per cent while Rio Tinto fell by 0.5 per cent.

US sharemarkets barely moved on Monday following the mixed economic data. Homebuilders benefited from the lift in pending home sales with Lennar lifting by 0.9 per cent. General Motors lost 1.7 per cent after announcing six more safety recalls. Ending the quarter utilities was the best performing sector while retail was amongst the weakest. The Dow Jones fell by 25 points with the S&P 500 index was flat and the Nasdaq rose by 10 points or 0.2 per cent. For the June quarter the Dow Jones rose by 2.2 per cent, while the S&P 500 lifted 4.7 per cent and the Nasdaq added 5 per cent -- marking the sixth straight quarter of gains. 

US treasury prices rose modestly on Monday (yields lower), although traders were reluctant to make sizeable bets ahead of the quarter-end and jobs data on Thursday. US 2-year yields fell by 2 points to 0.46 per cent while US 10-year yields fell by 1 point at 2.53 per cent.

Major currencies were stronger against the US dollar on Monday. The euro lifted from lows near $US1.3640 to highs near $US1.3695, closing US trade near its highs. The Australian dollar lifted from lows near US93.85c and US94.40c and ended US trade near US94.30c. And the Japanese yen traded in a tight range between 101.40 yen per US dollar to JPY101.25, ending US trade near JPY101.30.

World oil prices eased on Monday as concerns about potential supply disruptions from Iraq eased. Brent crude fell by US85c or 0.8 per cent to US$112.45 a barrel. While the US Nymex price closed lower by US37c or 0.3 per cent to US$105.37 a barrel. 

Base metal prices were higher on the London Metal Exchange on Monday. Zinc led the gains up by 1.3 per cent while tin lifted by 1.1 per cent. The Comex gold futures quote rose by US$2 an ounce or 0.2 per cent to US$1,322 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US$1.10 a tonne or 1.2 per cent to US$93.80 a tonne.