In the US, the Philadelphia Fed Business Activity Index lifted from 20.7 to 40.8 in October -- its highest reading since 1993. The new orders sub-index was at the highest level in 26 years. US Consumer prices were unchanged in October to be 1.7 per cent higher than a year ago. The tame result was driven by a slide in energy prices (-1.9 per cent) and gasoline prices (-3 per cent) in October.
Excluding food and energy, prices were up 0.2 per cent to be up 1.8 per cent on a year ago.
The US leading index rose by 0.9 per cent in October. US existing home sales rose by 1.5 per cent in October to an annual rate of 5.26 million -- the highest rate since September last year. Sales are up 2.5 per cent on a year ago. US jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 291,000 in last week. Claims have been below the 300,000 threshold for 10 straight weeks -- a sign of the tightening labour market.
European shares were mixed on Thursday as weaker-than-expected eurozone manufacturing data added to worries about growth for the region. The Eurozone flash manufacturing gauge fell from 52.1 to 51.4 in November, with new orders falling for the first time in a year despite firms cutting prices. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell by 0.3 per cent with the UK FTSE also down by 0.3 per cent while the German Dax rose by 0.1 per cent. In London trade shares in BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both lost 2.6 per cent.
US sharemarkets edged higher on Thursday as the lift in factory activity and existing home sales supported sentiment. At the close of trade the Dow Jones was up by 33 points or 0.2 per cent while the S&P 500 index was up by 0.2 per cent and the Nasdaq was higher by 26 points or 0.6 per cent.
US treasuries rose on Thursday (yields lower) as weak global manufacturing data supported demand for safe-haven US bonds. US 2-year yields fell by 2 points to 0.513 per cent while US 10 year yields fell by 3 points to 2.336 per cent.
The US dollar was mixed against major currencies on Thursday. The euro fell from highs near $US1.2575 to lows near $US1.2505, and was around $US1.2545 in late US trade. The Australian dollar rose from lows near US85.70c to around US86.40c, holding near US86.30c in late US trade. The Japanese yen traded between 118.95 yen per US dollar and ¥117.80 and was holding near ¥118.05.
World oil prices rose on Thursday for the first time in four sessions supported by upbeat US economic data. Brent crude rose by $US1.19 or 1.5 per cent to $US79.29 a barrel while the US Nymex crude price rose by $US1 to $US75.58 a barrel.
Base metal prices were mostly higher on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday. Copper bucked the trend losing 0.3 per cent but other metals lifted between 0.8 per cent-3.5 per cent. Gold fell on Thursday with the Comex gold futures price down by $US3 an ounce or 0.3 per cent to $US1,190.90 per ounce. Iron ore was unchanged at $US70.00 a tonne on Thursday.
Ahead: In Australia, no economic data is released. RBA head of economics, Alex Heath speaks at a mining conference. In the US, no economic data is released
Savanth Sebastian is an economist at CommSec.