USD under pressure after weak US data, AUD shrugs off disappointing jobs data

Markets managed to shrug off Wall Street’s decline, where soft retail data and a weak outlook in the Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” saw the S&P 500 end 0.5 per cent lower. Japan’s Nikkei was up 1.4 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.5 per cent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 2.2 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 1.4 per cent. European indices are eyeing their first gains in at least two days, following on from a solid session in Asian markets.

In the US, the S&P 500 ended the day 0.5 per cent lower, the Dow Jones was down 0.9 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.3 per cent. There was a 0.9 per cent drop in the dollar index, which was hurt by the soft US data on Wednesday. It was also the biggest drop for the index, a gauge of the US currency against a basket of global peers, since mid-September.

Markets were undeterred by disappointing data from Australia this morning, with the economy shedding 5,100 jobs in September, against expectations for a gain of 9,600. However, August’s gain was revised slightly higher, and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.2 per cent.

The Australian dollar sharply swung in and out of negative territory but had found its feet to be 0.3 per cent higher at US$0.7325. Still, the currency has had a strong run, and has risen for 11 of the past 12 sessions.

The Japanese yen is 0.2 per cent weaker at Y119.12 per dollar, but on Wednesday reached its strongest point in just over two months, of Y118.63.

The New Zealand dollar continues to climb, up 0.5 per cent this morning to a three-and-a-half-month high of US$0.6823 as consumer confidence jumped in September.

In Asian currencies, South Korea’s won was up 1.2 per cent after the central bank kept interest rates on hold at a record low 1.5 per cent for the fourth-straight month.

Oil prices continued to slide. Brent crude, down 0.02 per cent at $49.14 a barrel in Asian trade, way eyeing its fifth straight day of declines, for its first five-day losing streak since July 28.

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