Scoreboard: Wall Street's Christmas gift

Buoyed by the strong performance of blue-chip stocks, US markets secured new historic records, while world oil prices also enjoyed a lift.

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* In US economic data, the final estimate of economic growth for the September quarter showed a 5.0% annualised pace, above estimates of 4.3% and the fastest pace in 11 years. Chain store sales were up 5.3% in the latest week, up from 4.1% in the prior week. New home sales fell 1.6% to a 438,000 annual pace in November. Personal incomerose by 0.4% in November with spending up 0.6%. Home prices rose 0.5% in October to be up 4.5% on the year.

* European shares were firmer on Tuesday with the FTSEurofirst 300 index up by 0.6% and the German Dax also up by 0.6%. Good economic news from Spain and Portugal offset concern that elections in Greece may put that country's bailout package at risk. In London trade, the FTSE rose by 0.3% while shares in BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lifted 1.1%. In the UK, the current account deficit rose to a record 6.0% of GDP.

US sharemarkets rose again on Tuesday with blue-chip stocks leading the way on optimism about the economy. But technology shares lagged, dragged down weakness in the biotechnology sector. With just over an hour of trade to go, the Dow Jones index was up by 104 points or 0.6 per cent to record highs above 18,000 points with the S&P 500 index up by 0.4 per cent to record highs. But the Nasdaq was lower by 7 points or 0.2 per cent.

US treasuries fell on Tuesday (yields higher) in response to strong US economic data, leading investors to prefer equities over bonds. US Treasury sold $35 billion of 5-year notes and $13bn of re-opened 2-year floating rate notes on Tuesday and will sell $29bn of 7-year notes on Wednesday. US 2-year yields rose by 7 points to 0.735 per cent while US 10-year yields were up 8 points to 2.245 per cent.

Major currencies fell against the greenback in the US session after lifting in the European session on Tuesday. The euro eased from highs near $US1.2245 to around $US1.2165 and was near $US1.2175 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US80.90c to highs around US81.40c but then fell back to US80.90c in late US trade. And the Japanese yen weakened from ¥120.04 per US dollar to ¥120.80 and was near ¥120.70 in late US trade.

World oil prices rose on Tuesday after data showed the US economy growing at the fastest annual rate in 11 years. Brent crude rose by $US1.58 or 2.6 per cent to US$61.69 a barrel. US Nymex crude rose by US$1.86 or 3.4 per cent to US$57.12 a barrel.

Base metal prices fell by up to 3.4 per cent on the London Metal Exchange on Tuesday with tin leading the declines. But zinc lost just 0.1 per cent with aluminium and copper down 0.4-0.5 per cent. Gold eased in response to a firmer greenback on Tuesday with Comex gold futures down by $US1.80 an ounce or 0.2 per cent to US$1,178.10 per ounce. Iron ore fell by $US2.40 or 3.7 per cent to $US65.60 a tonne on Tuesday.

Ahead: In Australia no economic data is scheduled. In the US, weekly data on housing finance and jobless claims are expected.

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