Good morning. Equity and Commodity markets closed lower on Thursday with investors cautious after mixed economic news in the US. Weekly Jobless Claims figures highlighted a fall of 34,000 for the period, which exceeded initial expectations. Coming in at 388,000, the drop represented a significant adjustment in the labour market. Pending Home Sales data also indicated a solid trend and possible recovery with a 3.5% rise in November. Economists prior to the release were forecasting a flat figure for the period. Although the results were quite positive, market sentiment was governed by thin trade volumes and concerns over Europe debt and Japan. Early in the day, the Japanese government released disappointing PMI Manufacturing figures. A slight rise for the period, the result still indicated a slight contraction in the economy.
On the equity market front, the Dow Jones was flat leading up to the end of the year. Trading in and out of positive territory for much of the session, thin volumes were recorded due to lack of corporate direction. Speculation by media sources that BHP Billiton will look at making a bid for Anadarko Petroleum, led to heightened volatility in the sector. Technology company Groupon announced a $500 million raising, with Directors in the company divesting $350 million. The cash injection is expected to assist in short term marketing and growth plans.
On the currency front, The Japanese Yen was range bound on Thursday with traders eyeing PMI Manufacturing Data. The rise to 48 for the December period was above expectations, however the result indicated that the economy was still contracting. The USDJPY opened weaker in the morning session before stabilising at 81.46. Recent speculation that the BOJ would intervene in the currency markets also helped weaken the yen during the trade day, with economists highlighting the potential for extreme volatility in light of the possible move. Export data was disappointing with new orders falling to 46 for the December period. The Canadian dollar held onto its gains on Thursday with the currency sitting below parity.