Global markets were collectively weaker on Friday night, as investors largely ignored the positive jobs data in the US and instead focused their attention on the upcoming election and fast approaching fiscal cliff.
In Europe, the FTSE gained seven points (+0.1%) to settle at 5869 while the French CAC added 17 points (+0.5%) to settle at 3492 and the DAX added 28 points (+0.4%) to settle at 7364.
European indices clung onto gains despite data showing a 15th straight contraction in the eurozone manufacturing sector in October, as output and new orders continued to retreat.
In the US, markets finished firmly in the red despite a better-than-expected jobs report showing 171,000 new jobs generated in October.
As mentioned earlier, the weakness was likely brought on by uncertainty surrounding the upcoming election, with Romney and Obama presently tied in the polls.
The S&P lost 13 points (-0.9%) to settle at 1414, the Nasdaq shed 38 points (-1.2%) to settle at 2982, and the Dow Jones gave up 139 points (-1.1%) to settle at 13093.
In the currency space, the US dollar gained against the yen and euro due to the positive US data release. The yen weakened due to economic weakness and weaker-than-expected corporate earnings.
The euro declined against the US dollar after it became known that its manufacturing sector contracted. Oil prices contracted mainly because of refinery shutdowns brought on by hurricane Sandy.
Crude for December delivery fell $2.23 (-2.6%), to $84.86 a barrel on the NYMEXX, the lowest settlement since July 10. Oil fell 1.6% this week and is down 14% year-to-date.
Meanwhile, gold had its biggest loss in four months as investors sought haven in the US dollar. Gold futures for December delivery tumbled 2.3% to settle at $1,675.20 an ounce, the biggest drop for a most-active contract since June 21.
In company news, Westpac has reported a 5% increase in FY12 cash profit to $6.6 billion, with the result coming in ahead of analyst estimates.
Today will see the Bureau of Statistics’ release of retail sales and trade balance data (11:30am, AEDT).