In US economic data, retail sales rose by 0.7 per cent in November (well ahead of expectations of 0.4 per cent). Excluding gasoline, sales lifted by 0.9 per cent. The gains were broad-based and confirmed a lift in discretionary spending. Core retail sales (excluding automobiles, gasoline, building material and food services) lifted by 0.6 per cent. US jobless claims fell by 3,000 to 294,000 in the past week. US import prices fell 1.5 per cent in November driven by a 6.9 per cent slide in oil prices. US business inventories rose 0.2 per cent in October after a 0.3 per cent gain in September.
European shares were mixed on Thursday, supported by the lift on Wall St. However Greek shares fell for a third straight session as the upcoming presidential election sparked concerns about political instability. The Greek ATG stock index fell 7.4 per cent taking losses for the week to 20 per cent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index was flat while the German Dax rose by 0.6 per cent per cent. The UK FTSE lost 0.6 per cent. In London trade shares in BHP Billiton fell by 1.8 per cent while Rio Tinto lost 1.8 per cent.
US sharemarkets rallied on Thursday boosted by the strength in retail activity and ongoing improvement in the US labour market. The S&P retail index jumped 1.2 per cent, driven by a 1.8 per cent rise in Home Depot shares. Energy stocks recovered part of the recent losses. At the close of trade, the Dow Jones was higher by 63 points or 0.4 per cent, after being up as much as 225 points. The S&P 500 index rose by 0.5 per cent, while the Nasdaq rose by 24 points or 0.5 per cent.
US treasuries fell on Thursday (yields higher) after the upbeat retail sales result supported an improvement in risk appetite. US 2-year yields rose by 4 points to 0.612 per cent while US 10-year yields rose by 1 points to 2.174 per cent.
Major currencies were fell against the greenback in European and US trade on Thursday. The euro fell from highs near $US1.2480 to around $US1.2370 and was near $US1.2380 in late US trade. The Australian dollar fell from highs near US83.45c to around US82.30c and was around US82.55c in late US trade. And the Japanese yen weakened from 117.90 yen per US dollar to ¥119.55 and was near ¥119.30 in late US trade.
World oil prices eased on Thursday stabilising near five-year lows. The upbeat consumer spending data and rate cut in Norway provide a respite for the slide in oil prices. Brent crude fell by US52c or 0.8 per cent to $US63.72 a barrel. US Nymex crude price fell by US99c or 1.6 per cent to $US59.95 a barrel.
Base metal prices were mixed on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday. Lead fell by 1.7 per cent, while tin (up 0.8 per cent), zinc (up 0.7 per cent) and copper (up 0.6 per cent) managed to record modest gains. Gold fell on Thursday as investors shifted out of safe-haven assets. The Comex gold futures price was down by $US3.80 an ounce or 0.3 per cent to $US1,225.60 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US10c to $US68.80 a tonne on Thursday.
Ahead: In Australia lending finance data is released. In the US, consumer confidence is released. Chinese retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment figures are released.
Savanth Sebastian is an economist at CommSec.