The ASX is set to open higher after Wall Street rose on the back of positive economic data and Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent extended their rebound to a third day.

The Australian SPI 200 futures contract was down 18 points or 0.2 per cent at 7,479 near 7.45 am Sydney time on Friday, suggesting a positive start to trading.

US stocks rose after fresh data on the labour market and the trade balance showed that the economic recovery remains on track.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%. The S&P 500 added 0.3%, setting a record high. The Nasdaq Composite, which set its own record high, was up about 0.1% as large technology stocks extended their gains.

Stocks have pushed higher this week as investors weighed strong corporate earnings and low interest rates against indicators that growth may be slowing in some parts of the world.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.99 US cents near 7.50am AEST, up from the previous close of 73.66. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the US dollar relative to 16 foreign currencies, fell to 86.97.

Locally, the S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.55% lower at 7485.7, paring early losses for a second consecutive session. The benchmark fell 1.2% in the first hour as market heavyweights CSL, BHP and Woolworths traded ex-dividend, but steadily ground higher amid gains by energy and tech stocks.

BHP was the worst performing ASX component, dropping A$3.09, or 6.9%, to A$41.94 after paying its record final dividend of A$2.00 a share. The materials sector lost 2.5%.

Software firm Altium was the best performer, clawing back another 4.3% after shedding 14% when its outlook disappointed investors on Monday.

Woodside will be taking on a $2 billion-$4 billion decommissioning liability if it proceeds with the acquisition of BHP's petroleum business, Macquarie says. Woodside hasn't quantified the liability so far, but has said it is a key area of due diligence.

Gold futures fell 0.3% to $US1811.50 an ounce; Brent crude was up 2.5% at $US73.40 a barrel; Iron ore was down 1% to $US142.02.

The yield on the Australian 10-year bond was down at 1.20%; The yield on the US 10-year note fell to 1.29%.


Chinese stocks ended the session mixed, as coal miners resumed a sharp upturn while software companies weakened. Coal futures contracts have surged amid constrained supply and elevated demand for electricity, buoying sentiment for miners. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8% to 3,597.04, climbing for the fifth-straight session.

Hong Kong shares closed higher amid broad-based gains led by technology companies amid positive sentiment as China's central bank said it was raising its relending quota by CNY300 billion to support struggling small businesses and economic growth.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed 0.2% higher at 26090.43 while the Hang Seng Tech Index ended 1.6% higher at 6801.47. Alibaba Group rose 3.5%, Alibaba Health Information gained 3.1% and Tencent Holdings grew 1.6%.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average closed 0.3% higher, helped by gains in shares of chemical manufacturers. The gains were also supported by comments from Bank of Japan's board member Goushi Kataoka, who stressed the Bank of Japan's readiness to ramp up stimulus if needed, Oanda said.


London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.2% to 7163.90 on Thursday.

The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index, which tracks the return of the largest listed companies across 17 European countries, closed 0.31% higher to 474.60.

North America

US stocks rose Thursday after fresh data on the labor market and the trade balance showed that the economic recovery remains on track.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 131.29 points, or 0.4%, to 35443.88 and the S&P 500 added 12.86 points, or 0.3%, to 4536.95, setting a fresh record high. The Nasdaq Composite, which also set a record on Wednesday, rose 21.80 points, or 0.1%, to 15331.18, as large technology stocks extended their gains.

Equities prices have remained on a steady upward march for nearly a year despite all the problems and uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 has risen 20% this year, up 40% from its 52-week low from last September, and hasn't seen a single drop of 5% or more since last November.

History cautions against betting too heavily on the rally continuing. In years when the S&P 500 rose at least 20% through August, the index averaged a decline of 2% for the rest of the year, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Where stocks go from here will be heavily dependent on the economy and the Federal Reserve. Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, dropped to 340,000, reaching a new pandemic low. The Fed signalled that the labour market's recovery is a factor in its monetary policy decisions. Separately, new data showed that the US trade deficit narrowed to $70.1 billion in July as American consumers shifted spending toward in-person services and away from goods.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked down to 1.293% from 1.301% on Wednesday.

Stocks have pushed higher this week as investors weighed strong corporate earnings and low interest rates against indicators that growth may be slowing in some parts of the world. Money managers say they are awaiting the jobs report for August, due Friday, for more cues on when and how the Fed may taper its bond purchases.

"The confluence of a strong recovery at the same time as very low interest rates and maybe the peak of policy accommodation: if you put those all together, it is a very powerful mix for risky assets," said Bill Papadakis, macro economist at Lombard Odier. "If you consider the alternatives in which investors could put their money today—with interest rates where they are—equities are often the one option for somewhat better returns."

On Wednesday, ADP said the private sector created only 374,000 jobs in August, below expectations. That could be a warning sign for Friday's government jobs report. A weaker economy complicates the Fed's timeline for raising rates, said Ava Trade analyst Naeem Aslam.

"Investors are considering bad news as good because the economy not recovering quickly may convince the Fed to stick to its soft-money stance," he said.

One corner of the market that has cooled significantly are so-called SPAC stocks. A broad selloff has wiped about $75 billion off the value of companies that came public through special-purpose acquisition companies, according to a Dow Jones Market Data analysis of figures from SPAC Research.

Among corporate names, Spotify rose 6.6% to $254.03. Apple said it would allow media apps such as the music streaming service to link to their own websites for payment, taking down restrictions criticized as anticompetitive.

Oil prices rose a day after the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries and its Russia-led allies agreed to continue increasing oil production.

The price of bitcoin touched $50,000 on Thursday morning, after a strong run in August. But similar to the past week, it struggled to get over the mark, more recently trading at $49,300.

Shares in cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global added 0.9% to $268.18.