Chinese shares tumbled on Thursday on worries over the state of economic growth in the world's second largest economy, as it transforms itself from an investment-based economy to a consumer spending model. The tumble comes directly before the meeting of the Group of 20 in Shanghai to discuss global fiscal policies and possible coordination.
China's Shanghai index slumped 4.11% to trade at 2,809, while across the sea, it was a very different story, with Japan's Nikkei jumping 1.41% to above the level of 16,000 again, taking advantage of the yen's decline, which buoys exporters' competitiveness abroad. Australian shares on the other hand recorded a small profit of 0.13%, after touching a nine-day low earlier in the session.
Wall Street recovered on Wednesday after a negative start, supported by rebounding oil prices, with Dow Jones closing up 53 points, or 0.32% at 16,484. NASDAQ Composite jumped 39 points, or 0.87% to 4,542, making it the day's biggest winner. S&P 500 similarly climbed eight points, or 0.44% to end at 1,929.
Oil prices rose nearly one percent yesterday after a report said that gasoline demand rose by 5% y/y in the last four weeks, somehow offsetting the persistent growth of U.S. crude inventories to new record highs, and offering a glimpse of hope that demand in the world's largest oil consumer would catch up to supply and rebalance the markets consequently.
Brent crude futures last inched down four cents, or 0.12% to trade at $34.37 a barrel, as traders take profits of yesterday's rise. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures similarly slipped five cents, or 0.15% to hover around $32.05 a barrel, firming away from the $30-level.
On the Forex markets, the euro pushed back against the dollar to trade last at 1.1034, up 0.20% on the day after plumbing a three-week low yesterday at 1.0955. The yen on the other hand lost 0.10% versus the greenback to hover around 112.27, sterling was largely flat at 1.3929, not far from a seven-year nadir hit yesterday on Brexit worries.
A basket of crucial data is awaited today, with Britain's second estimate for GBP expected to show a growth of 0.5% q/q in the fourth quarter of 2015, same as the first estimate, but not good enough to help the struggling sterling.
From the U.S., unemployment claims for last week are forecast at 271K, higher than the previous reading's 262 thousand, but still way below the level of 300,000, which is positive for the U.S. labor market and the greenback.