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The number of people in the US who have received one or more vaccine doses has reached 34.7 million, according to the CDC’s latest tally. Confirmed cases in the US are more than 27.1 million with the death toll at more than 470,100.

Bitcoin surged to a new high after Bank of NY Mellon said it had formed a new unit to help clients hold, transfer and issue digital assets.

It peaked above $US48,177 earlier, according to Near 7.50am AEDT, the cryptocurrency was up more than 6 per cent to about $US47,410.

The new unit at BNY Mellon is expected to roll out the offerings later this year. That comes a day after Mastercard said it was planning to offer support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year and days after Tesla revealed it had bought $US1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency.

Last month, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, added bitcoin as an eligible investment to two funds.

In commodities markets, oil was lower as the pandemic continues to push forward higher demand. Gold also fell. Iron ore was flat, as expected, with Chinese markets closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Today’s agenda

Local: BusinessNZ manufacturing PMI January


Click here for a list of the results of Australian companies reporting their interim results in the February reporting season.

Overseas data: Euro zone industrial production December; US consumer sentiment February

Market highlights

ASX futures down 2 points to 6777 near 8am AEDT

  • AUD +0.4% to 77.54 US cents
  • On Wall St: Dow flat S&P 500 +0.2% Nasdaq +0.4%
  • In New York: BHP -0.1% Rio -0.9% Atlassian +0.1%
  • Tesla +0.9% Microsoft +0.7% Pinterest +7.3%
  • In Europe: Stoxx 50 +0.6% FTSE +0.1% CAC flat DAX +0.8%
  • Spot gold -0.9% to $US1825.60/oz at 12.56pm New York time
  • Brent crude -0.4% to $US61.20 a barrel
  • US oil -0.7% to $US58.29 a barrel
  • Iron ore flat at $US166.88 a tonne
  • 2-year yield: US 0.11% Australia 0.09%
  • 5-year yield: US 0.46% Australia 0.52%
  • 10-year yield: US 1.15% Australia 1.18% Germany -0.46%
  • US prices near 3.50pm in New York

From today’s Financial Review

AMP fights on all fronts as Ares retracts $6b bid: Francesco De Ferrari will slash customer super fees, freeze staff wages and cut costs after finding the company was unable to divorce its underperforming businesses.


Crown director Andrew Demetriou resigns: Crown Resorts director Andrew Demetriou has resigned from the embattled gambling giant following the NSW gaming regulator calling for his resignation along with that of chief executive Ken Barton.

United States

Trump impeachment: Senators will see more harrowing footage of Donald Trump supporters running riot at the Capitol as the former president’s impeachment trial continues.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 793,000 for the week ended February 6. Data for the prior week was revised to show 33,000 more claims received than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 757,000 applications for the latest week.

Pinterest rose after a report said Microsoft approached the image-sharing company in recent months about a potential buyout. The negotiations were, however, currently not active, according to the report.

Westpac’s view of US growth: “For GDP, the net effect is expected to be 5.7pc annualised growth over the nine months to December and a 4.7pc annual gain. 2021 will then see growth almost three times our estimate of long-term US potential growth (1.75pc). To this view, there are clear upside risks.”



Europe faces slow road to recovery, Brussels warns: The latest quarterly EU forecast is gloomier about the Continent’s growth prospects this year, but sees a pick up in 2022.

European shares rose on Thursday, as investors kept close watch on a barrage of earnings reports.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed up 0.5pc, on track for a near 4pc gain in February.

The STOXX 600 is about 5pc away from its peak of February 2020 after a rally of about 50pc since it crashed in March, aided by historic monetary and fiscal stimulus.

Technology stocks, the biggest beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic, were the top boosts on Thursday as a surge in US peers kept the tech-heavy Nasdaq near all-time highs. Europe’s tech sector rose 2.2pc to hit their highest since 2001.

The banks sector dropped 0.5pc as Germany’s Commerzbank tumbled 6pc after the lender said its loss deepened in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, France’s second-biggest listed bank Credit Agricole jumped almost 5pc after posting better-than-expected fourth-quarter results.


A 13pc plunge in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield saw it languish at the bottom of the STOXX 600, after the shopping centres owner said it planned to cut US exposure to close to zero.


Biden burnishes his tough line on China in first call with Xi: The call – which comes after Mr Biden spent weeks pointedly talking to America’s closest allies – follows a warning from Antony Blinken that America would hold its rival to account.

Hong Kong stocks ended a half-day trading session on Thursday at their highest level since June 2018, as investors squared their positions ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

The Hang Seng index gained 0.5 per cent at 30,173.57 while the China Enterprises Index climbed 0.6 per cent to 11,880.49 points.

For the holiday-shortened week, Hang Seng Index climbed 3.02pc, the HSCE added 2.76pc and the Hang Seng Tech index rose 6.29pc.

The Hong Kong market will be closed from Friday through February 15.

China’s A-share market was closed on Thursday and will remain so through February 17.



Bitcoin buyers should hedge with gold: Biswas: Three of Australia’s top gold bosses say cryptocurrencies won’t steal gold’s safe-haven status and the forces driving record Bitcoin prices are good for gold.


World oil demand in 2021 will rebound more slowly than previously thought, OPEC said, adding to a series of downgrades as the impact of the pandemic lingers.

Demand will rise by 5.79 million barrels per day (bpd) this year to 96.05 million bpd, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in a monthly report, trimming its growth forecast by 110,000 bpd from a month ago.

The prospect of weaker demand has already prompted OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, to slow their plan to boost output.

“While the global economy is showing signs of a healthy recovery in 2021, oil demand is currently lagging, but is forecast to pick up in the second half of 2021,” OPEC said in the report.


Separately, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said global oil supply still outstrips demand due to persistent COVID-19 lockdowns and the spread of variants but vaccines should help demand recover.

“With demand forecast to rise strongly and still modest growth in non-OPEC supply expected, a rapid stock draw is anticipated during the second half of the year.”

“That sets the stage for OPEC+ to start unwinding cuts.”

Australian sharemarket

ASX closes little changed as Telstra, AMP report earnings: AMP, Telstra, AGL Energy and Newcrest were among the company’s to report results on Thursday in a market dominated by a wavering benchmark index.

Chanticleer: What we learnt: AGL, Transurban, Magellan: Cracks appear for AGL gradually, then suddenly, while Transurban waits for its big hole to start and Magellan thinks laterally.

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