The Australian dollar gave up some ground today after disappointing employment data, showing a drop of 7.9 thousand in the employment count in January, compared to forecasts of a 12.9K addition, and December's smaller 0.8K drop. Consequently, the unemployment rate rose unexpectedly to 6.0% from 5.8% in the previous reading, with forecasts pointing to a flat result.
Aussie retreated a third of a percentage point against its American partner to trade at 0.7160, with an intraday low at 0.7130, a high at 0.7184. the pair closed the session yesterday also at 0.7184, a two-week high that was hit following a strong rebound in commodities and China's shares.
Oil prices on the other kept up their positive momentum after surging nearly seven percent yesterday, after Iran sounded support for the recently-announced deal between Saudi and Russia in Doha, meant to cap production volumes at the January levels as a first step towards sapping an entrenched supply glut in the markets now.
Brent crude futures rose another 60 cents, or 1.70% to trade at $35.08 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediary (WTI) crude futures added 55 cents, or 1.80% to hover around $31.20 a barrel, firmly above and away from the psychological level of $30 a barrel.
Asian shares enjoyed wide gains today, despite weak data from Australia and Japan, with Australian shares advancing 2.25%, while Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.28%, keeping up its bounce away from a 16-month low touched last week. China's Shanghai index drove 0.40% higher, buoyed by stronger-than-expected producer prices data in January.
Wall Street extended its rally on Wednesday, carried higher by energy shares in particular, with Dow Jones adding 257 points, or 1.59% to end at 16,453. NASDAQ Composite rose nearly one hundred points, or 2.21% to 4,534, making it the day's biggest winner again. S&P 500 gained 31 points, or 1.65% to close at 1,926.
An array of important U.S. data is awaited today, with unemployment claims for last week expected to rise to 275K from the previous reading's 269K, but it would remain far below the level of 300K, which is positive for the currency and the economy.
Crude oil stocks on the other hand are expected to have risen 3.2 million barrels last week, compared to the previous reading's 0.8M drop, which could send oil prices lower and raise fears over persistent oversupply pressures.