European markets were belted this time, whilst US markets played the role of saviour as investors weighed reports that Italy’s parliamentary election results were inconclusive against better-than-expected data from the US. Moreover, US consumer confidence beat the median analyst estimate as it climbed to 69.6 this month from 58.4 in January.
In Europe, the UK’s FTSE decreased 85 points (-1.3%) to settle at 6270 whilst Germany’s DAX slashed 176 points (-2.3%) to settle at 11399. France’s CAC declined 99 points (-2.3%) to settle at 7597.
In the US, the Dow Jones climbed 116 points (+0.8%) to settle at 13900 whilst the S&P increased 9 points (+0.6%) to settle at 1497. The Nasdaq added a further 13 points (+0.4%) to settle at 3130.
In the commodity space, oil declined to a two-month low due to speculation that supplies have increased in the past week. Crude oil for April delivery declined $0.48 to settle at $92.63 per barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery added $28.90 (+1.8%) to settle at $1,615.50 per ounce as investors sought the commodity’s safety amid uncertainty in the eurozone.
Moreover, Fed Chairman Bernanke mentioned that the Fed’s $85 billion asset repurchasing program is unlikely to negatively affect inflation or cause asset-price bubbles.
In the currency space, the Japanese yen finished lower against its counterparts due to concerns that the country’s Prime Minister will appoint Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda as the next BoJ governor.
The euro finished higher against the US dollar due to speculation that the ECB will help constrain losses in Italian and Spanish bonds. The US dollar finished higher against most of its peers for the same reasons gold advanced; investors seeking safe-havens.
In company news, Westfield has reported an 18% increase in full year net profit to $1.7 billion. The group also extended its current share buyback program for another 12 months.
Today will see the release of the construction work done data (11:30am, AEDT).