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Australian shares are set to edge higher after Wall Street was mixed as Apple shed 10 per cent, but solid data on factories and jobs offered further evidence of a stengthening US recovery.

On the ASX24 at 6.30am, the SPI futures contract was 16 points higher to 4797. The Aussie dollar has lost half a US to a three-week low. It was recently buying $US1.0471, down from Thursday's local close of $US1.0514. It was also buying 94.12 yen, 78.22 euro cents and 66.25 pence.

What you need to know

  • SPI futures are 16 points higher at 4797
  • The $A is lower at $US1.0471
  • In New York, the S&P500 was flat higher at 1494.82
  • In Europe, the FTSE100 rose 1.09% to 6264.91
  • China iron ore added 80 cents to $US148.60 a metric tonne
  • Gold fell 1% to settle at $1,669.90 an ounce
  • WTI crude oil fell 72 cents to settle at $95.95 a barrel
  • Reuters/Jefferies CRB index lost 0.9% at 300.6

Making news today

There is no major economics news scheduled for today.

In company news:

  • ResMed releases first half results
  • The following companies hold general meetings: Coal of Africa, Corazon Mining, Coretrack, GoConnect, Hire Intelligence International, Intelligent Solar, Nido Petroleum, Penrice Soda Holdings, Sietel, Stirling Resources

Analyst rating changes:

  • Aurora Oil & Gas rated new buy at GMP
  • Newcrest raised to outperform at RBC Capital
  • BC Iron cut to sector perform at RBC Capital
  • Woolworths raised to buy at Nomura
  • Wesfarmers cut to neutral at Nomura
  • Premier Investments raised to neutral at Nomura
  • Myer raised to buy at Nomura
  • JB Hi-Fi raised to neutral at Nomura

The dollar

The Australian dollar has fallen almost half a US cent cent despite a positive reading for Chinese manufacturing. At 7am AEDT on Friday, the Australian dollar was at $US1.0471, down from Thursday’s close of $US1.0514.

Westpac New Zealand senior market strategist Imre Speizer said there was no clear reason why the Aussie dollar had weakened.

‘‘It experienced quite a fall overnight, and that goes against what other currencies are doing,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s no obvious catalyst.’’

Mr Speizer said changed patterns of buying for the Australian dollar plus a late fall on China’s stock market may have contributed to the drop.

Offshore overnight

United States

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed, after topping 1,500 earlier in the day, as the worst slump for Apple Inc. in four years pulled technology shares lower and overshadowed better-than-forecast earnings.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, slid 12 percent after reporting the slowest profit growth since 2003 and weakest sales increase in 14 quarters. Netflix Inc. surged 41 percent as the largest online-video service beat its forecast for fourth- quarter subscriber growth and posted an unexpected profit.

Key numbers:

  • S&P 500 was flat to 1494.82
  • Dow Jones Indus Avg added 0.33% to 13,825.33
  • Nasdaq composite lost 0.74% to 3130.38

Europe

European stock markets climbed and the euro gained against the US dollar as traders welcomed positive economic data from China, the eurozone and the US, although Apple shares crumbled on Wall Street.

Key numbers:

  • London’s FTSE 100 added 1.09% to 6264.91
  • Frankfurt’s DAX 30 added 0.53% to 7748.13
  • Paris’s CAC 40 added 0.70% to 3752.17

Asia

Asian markets closed mixed despite a positive lead from Wall Street and news that Chinese manufacturing activity hit a two-year high in January. The yen retreated after a two-day rally as Japan logged a record trade deficit for 2012, with exports hit by the ongoing territorial spat with China and Europe’s long-running debt crisis.

Key numbers:

  • Japan's Nikkei 225 added 1.28% to 10,620.87
  • China's Shanghai composite lost 0.79% to 2,302.6
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.15% to 23,598.9

Commodities

Energy

Oil prices were mixed on Thursday after positive Chinese manufacturing data and as the United States prepared to update markets on the levels of its energy stockpiles.

  • Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March fell 41 US cents to stand at $113.21 a barrel in London late trade.
  • New York’s main contract, WTI light sweet crude for March closed 72 US cents higher at $US95.95 a barrel.  

Precious metals

Gold futures settled at their lowest level in more than a week as some investors were spooked by improvement in the US labour market while others cut back gold holdings in frustration over the metal’s lacklustre performance.

  • The most actively traded contract, for February, on Thursday fell $US16.80, or one per cent, to settle at $US1,669.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • This was the lowest settlement price since January 14, when gold ended at $US1,669.40.Silver and platinum also fell but rose 50 US cents to $US726.70.  

Base metals

Base metals closed mixed on the London Metal Exchange (LME) after positive economic data from the US helped to lift some members of the complex from earlier lows.

  • LME three-month copper was 0.1 per cent lower on the day at $US8,095.50 a metric ton. Lead prices had sustained the resilience they have shown in recent sessions, closing 1.4 per cent higher on the day at $US2,403/ton.

How we fared yesterday

The Australian market closed at a 20-month peak as high yield stocks made strong gains.

At the close on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 22.4 points, or 0.47 per cent at 4,810.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 21.7 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 4,833.8.

BusinessDay with agencies