Australian shares are expected to start the day higher, as Wall Street rallies into the Christmas period.
- The ASX rose for a third straight session on Thursday
- Wall Street has lifted the mood before Christmas
- The ASX will close early today due to the holiday weekend
ASX futures are up 0.6 per cent to 7,337, by 6:56am AEDT.
The Australian dollar was higher, trading at 72.47 US cents.
US stock indexes and yields on US Treasuries both climbed on Thursday as investors and traders were optimistic about positive economic data and the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the economy, even as COVID-19 case counts soar.
Consumer spending rose 0.6 per cent last month, and the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits held below pre-pandemic levels last week.
There are signs that Omicron is less likely to lead to hospitalisation, and a US Federal Drug Administration official said that data indicated that both Merck’s and Pfizer’s COVID-19 anti-viral pills were effective against the variant.
“Today is a very calm day; it’s the relief over Omicron apparently not being as bad as we feared,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.
“What remains impressive is how strong the consumer remains. It’s a positive sign as we head into 2022. The economic backdrop is on very strong footing.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8 per cent to 36,043, by 7:10am AEDT.
The rise of risk-on investments ahead of Christmas, dubbed a “Santa Claus rally” by traders, also nudged gold and oil higher.
The trading session so far has put markets on course for a third successive day of gains as they recovered from a jolt on Monday when worries about Omicron pushed investors to safe-haven assets like the greenback.
Oil prices extended gains on Thursday as the signs the worst effects of the Omicron variant might be containable prevailed over the threat of new travel curbs.
Brent crude was up 2 per cent to $US76.82 a barrel, by 07:04am AEDT.
European shares hit a one-month high on Thursday, led by gains in banking stocks.
The pan-European STOXX 600 gained 1 per cent, marking the third straight session of gains, tracking a global share rally that was also helped by robust US economic data.