Scoreboard: Scottish tension

The upcoming Scottish referendum kept UK shares in a narrow range, while US markets ended mixed as tech stocks dragged the Nasdaq lower.

In US economic data, industrial production fell by 0.1 per cent in August -- the first decline since January. US Capacity utilisation fell from 79.1 to 78.8 in August. The New York Fed's Empire State general business conditions index rose from 14.69 to 27.54 in September -- the highest since October 2009.

European shares were mixed on Monday, with stocks trading in a narrow range ahead of the vote on Scottish independence. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell by 0.05 per cent with the German Dax up by 0.1 per cent while the UK FTSE closed flat. Australia's major miners were mixed in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton down 0.4 per cent and Rio Tinto up 0.9 per cent.

US sharemarkets were mixed on Monday with the tech sector dragging the Nasdaq lower and as investors waited on the FOMC meeting and Alibaba listing. The Dow Jones index rose by 44 points or 0.3 per cent. The broader S&P 500 index fell by 0.1 per cent while the Nasdaq lost 49 points or 1.1 per cent.

US treasury prices rose on Monday (yields lower) as the weaker US factory data eased some concerns about the threat of earlier than expected US rate hikes. US two-year yields fell by 2 points to 0.54 per cent while US 10-year yields fell by 2 points to 2.59 per cent.

Major currencies were generally lower against the greenback over the European and US sessions on Monday. The US dollar index held near recent 15-month highs. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.2965 to US$1.2910, before ending US trade near US$1.2940. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US89.80c to highs around US90.50c before ending the US session near US90.25c. And the Japanese yen held between 107.35 yen per US dollar and ¥107.05, ending US trade near ¥107.15.

World oil prices rose on Monday recovering the prior session’s losses and bouncing of technical lows. Brent crude rose by US77c or 0.8 per cent to US$97.88 a barrel with the US Nymex price up by US56c a barrel or 0.7 per cent to US$92.92 a barrel.

Base metal prices were mostly weaker on Monday as traders continued to weigh up the week factory data from China. Aluminium fell 2 per cent with nickel also down by 1.9 per cent to a three-month low on a lift in inventories. Copper prices ended flat after early weakness. Gold prices rose from an eight-month low on Monday with the Comex gold futures quote higher by US$3.60 an ounce or 0.3 per cent to US$1,235.10 per ounce. Iron ore rose by US$3.20 or 3.8 per cent on Monday to US$85.20 a tonne.

Ahead: In Australia, RBA board minutes are released. RBA assistant governor Kent speaks at the Bloomberg Summit. In the US, the FOMC meeting begins.

Craig James is chief economist with Commsec.

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