It was a tale of two regions overnight, with European markets surging higher but US markets mixed.
In London the UK’s FTSE 100 jumped 99 points (+1.9%) to settle at 5403, whilst the CAC (+1.9%) and DAX (+1.7%) also gained ground.
Stateside, the Dow Jones gave up just two points to settle at 12503, whilst the S&P (+0.1%) and Nasdaq (-0.3%) also closed not too far from breakeven.
Better-than-expected US housing data and positive chatter about an upcoming European Union meeting outweighed a lowered eurozone growth outlook and a credit downgrade of Japan.
The Aussie dollar took a hit and is presently buying US$0.9795, whilst the euro fell the most in two months against the greenback as concern increased that Greece may leave the monetary union as European leaders prepare to meet tomorrow in Brussels.
Crude slipped as Iran agreed to let in United Nations nuclear inspectors, easing concern that the conflict over the country’s atomic energy program would disrupt Mideast supplies.
Oil for June delivery slid 91 cents to settle at $91.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract expired at the close of floor trading overnight.
The more actively traded July contract fell $1.01, or 1.1%, to $91.85.
Elsewhere, copper eked out a modest 0.1% gain whilst bullion slipped 1.3% to settle at US$1570 an ounce.
In company news, Myer reported 3Q FY12 sales of $651.1 million, down 0.9% compared to the same quarter last year. The group also downgraded its guidance for FY12.
Today’s session will bring us data in the form of the CB leading index (10:00am, AEST) and the Melbourne Institute leading index (10:30am, AEST).