In US economic data, claims for unemployment benefits (initial jobless claims) fell by 2,000 to a downwardly-revised 250,000 in the past week (survey: 265,000). Existing home sales fell by 5.9% in
July to a 4.81 million annualised rate (survey: 4.89m). The Philadelphia Federal Reserve manufacturing index rose from -12.3 points to +6.2 points in August (survey: -5). The Conference Board leading index fell by 0.4% in July (survey: -0.5%).

European sharemarkets closed higher on Thursday led by a 1.8% gain in the energy sector. Consumer prices in the euro zone rose by only 0.1% in July, but were up a record (23-year) 8.9% on a year
ago. And based on comments by European Central Bank board members on Thursday, investors are now factoring in a 50 basis point rate increase in September. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose by 0.4%. The German Dax index lifted 0.5%. The UK FTSE index rose by 0.4%. In London trade, shares of Rio Tinto rose by 1.2% with BHP shares up by 1.1%.

US sharemarkets were up modestly on Thursday. Shares in Cisco Systems rose by 5.8% after issuing an upbeat sales forecast. But shares in Kohl’s Corp slid by 7.7% after the retailer cut its full-year
sales and profit forecasts. Shares in Apple fell 0.2%, Microsoft shares fell 0.4% and Walmart lost 0.3%. The Dow Jones index rose by 19 points or 0.1%. The S&P 500 index lifted by 0.2%. And the
Nasdaq index gained 27 points or 0.2%.

US treasuries rose on Thursday (yields lower). The US Treasury sold US$8 billion worth of 30-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) at a yield of 0.92%. US 10-year yields fell by
around 2 points to near 2.87%. And US 2-year yields fell by around 9 points to near 3.21%.

Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.0185 to lows near US$1.0080 and was near US$1.0090 at the US close. The Aussie dollar held between US68.95 cents and US69.70 cents and was near US69.15 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen eased from 134.65 yen per US dollar to JPY135.90 and was near the weakest levels at the US close.


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Global oil prices rose on Thursday by around 3%. Investors were encouraged by data showing a fall in claims for unemployment insurance in the US in the latest week and downward revisions to previous data. Also figures showed that US crude stocks fell by 7.1 million barrels in the past week. The Brent crude oil price rose by US$2.94 or 3.1% to US$96.59 a barrel. And the US Nymex crude oil
price rose by US$2.39 or 2.7% to US$90.50 a barrel.

Base metal prices were weaker on Thursday with lead (-2.1%) down the most. But copper rose by 1.5%.

The gold futures price fell by US$5.50 an ounce or 0.3% to US$1,771.20 an ounce. Spot gold was trading near US$1,760 an ounce at the US close. Iron ore futures rose by US13 cents or
0.1% to US$104.72 a tonne.

Ahead: No major economic data is released in Australia, China or the US.

Originally published by CommSec