In US economic data: personal spending 0.2 per cent, income 0.2 per cent; durable goods orders 0.4 per cent; weekly jobless claims 21,000 to 313,000; Chicago purchasing manager's index down from 66.2 to 60.8; pending home sales down 1.1 per cent; new home sales 0.7 per cent; consumer sentiment down from 89.4 to 88.8; weekly mortgage market index down 4.3 per cent with purchases down 5.8 per cent.
European shares were mixed on Wednesday. Investors awaited the meeting of OPEC oil nations; digested US economic data; and mused whether the European Central Bank will deliver more stimulus next week. The FTSEurofirst 300 index was up less than 0.1 per cent, the German Dax lifted for the 10th straight day, up by 0.6 per cent, while the UK FTSE fell by 2 points or less than 0.1 per cent. In London trade, shares in BHP Billiton rose by 0.8 per cent while Rio Tinto gained 0.5 per cent.
US sharemarkets again held in tight trading ranges on Wednesday as investors digested economic data and prepared for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Shares in Hewlett Packard rose by 4 per cent after reporting fourth quarter results. At the close of trade, the Dow Jones was up by 13 points or 0.1 per cent after trading in a 40 point range. The S&P 500 index was up by 0.3 per cent to record highs and the Nasdaq gained 29 points or 0.6 per cent.
US long-term treasuries rose again on Wednesday (yields lower) with the barrage of new economic data on the softer side of market expectations. Treasury sold $US29 billion of seven-year notes also on Wednesday. US two-year yields fell by 1 point to 0.516 per cent while US 10-year yields fell by 3 points to 2.234 per cent.
Major currencies fell against the greenback in European trade but recouped losses in the US session on Wednesday. The Euro lifted from lows near $US1.2445 to highs near $US1.2530, and was around $US1.2510 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US85.60c to around US84.80c but lifted to near US85.45c in late US trade. And the Japanese yen strengthened from 117.89 yen per US dollar to ¥117.43 and was near ¥117.73 in late US trade.
World oil prices eased on Wednesday as investors digested the barrage of economic data in the US and positioned ahead of the meeting by OPEC oil nations to set production quotas. Brent crude fell by US58c or 0.7 per cent to $US77.75 a barrel while the US Nymex crude price fell by US40c or 0.5 per cent to $US73.69 a barrel.
Base metal prices were higher by up to 0.5 per cent on the London Metal Exchange on Wednesday but nickel fell by 1.1 per cent and copper lost 0.3 per cent. Gold fell slightly with Comex gold futures down by US50c an ounce or less than 0.1 per cent to $US1,196.60 per ounce. Iron ore fell by US60c to $US68.00 a tonne on Wednesday.
Ahead: In Australia, data on new home sales and business investment are released. In the US, markets are closed for Thanksgiving Day
Craig James is chief economist at CommSec.