Wall Street bounced back overnight, thanks to a surge in retail and technology stocks — even as traders remained on edge about geopolitics and rising US interest rates.
Markets at 7:15am (AEST):
- ASX SPI 200 futures +0.2pc, ASX 200 (Wednesday close) +0.2pc to 6,107
- AUD: 75.18 US cents, 55.64 British pence, 63.64 Euro cents, 82.94 Japanese yen, $NZ1.09
- US: Dow Jones +0.25pc at 24,769, SP 500 +0.4pc at 2,722, Nasdaq +0.6pc at 7,398
- Europe: FTSE +0.2pc at 7,734, DAX +0.2pc at 12,996, Euro Stoxx 50 flat at 3,563
- Commodities: Brent crude +1.1pc at $US79.29/barrel, spot gold flat at $US1,290.22/ounce
The Dow Jones index rose 0.25 per cent to 24,769. The broader SP 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq lifted by 0.4 and 0.6 per cent respectively.
But it was the small-cap stocks which performed best, with the Russell 2000 index surging 1 per cent to a fresh record.
Lachlan Murdoch to be Fox’s new boss
Twenty-First Century Fox’s chief executive James Murdoch will leave the company and be succeeded by brother Lachlan, if the company proceeds with selling its TV and film assets to Walt Disney Co.
James, the younger son of the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, decided months ago that he will pursue an opportunity of his own after quitting Fox.
Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch will serve as co-chairmen of the new Fox, which will retain its house assets Fox News, Fox Business Network and sports cable networks.
Fox agreed last year to sell the bulk of its film and TV assets to Walt Disney in a $US52.4 billion deal. It expects to ask shareholders for approval of the transaction this summer.
The company has declined to comment on reports that Comcast — the owner of NBCUniversal — is preparing a competing offer for the same Fox assets.
James Murdoch currently serves as chairman of Sky PLC, where he was earlier forced out for four years after a phone-hacking scandal.
Fox shares rose 0.8 per cent, while Disney lifted 2.1 per cent on this news.
Facebook’s boss to discuss privacy with European lawmakers
Facebook shares were the biggest drag on the SP 500, down 0.6 per cent.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal
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This was after the social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to appear before the European Parliament at a closed-door meeting, possibly as soon as next week.
He will be there to answer questions about the improper use of millions of users’ data, as concerns about the company’s data protection linger.
Facebook came under scrutiny over the way it handles personal data after revelations that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica — which worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign — improperly accessed the Facebook data of 87 million users.
“The founder and CEO of Facebook has accepted our invitation and will be in Brussels as soon as possible, hopefully already next week,” Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I welcome Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to appear in person before the representatives of 500 million Europeans.
“It is a step in the right direction towards restoring confidence.”
A hearing will also be organised with Facebook and other parties concerned, Mr Tajani said, to carry out an “in-depth analysis of aspects related to personal data protection” and potential impacts on electoral processes in Europe.
Retail boosts Wall Street
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The US retail sector was one of the best performers after Macy’s stocks jumped 10.8 per cent, on the back of the department store chain’s stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings.
That helped shares of other retailers, including JC Penney, Kohl’s, Nordstro, which were all up between 1.5 and 3 per cent.
Macy’s results come a day after strong April retail sales data showed consumer spending was picking up, stoking inflation worries and sending US government bond yields higher.
Unemployment and jobs in focus
The local share market is expected to kick off higher, following the positive lead from US markets.
In economic news, the latest job figures will be released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Economists are predicting 20,000 new jobs to have been created in April, and the unemployment rate to remain steady at 5.5 per cent.
The Australian dollar managed to stage a rebound — it has risen to 75.2 US cents, 55.5 British pence and 63.6 Euro cents.