Australian shares are set to rise at open, as global technology stocks rally.

ASX futures were 18 points or 0.24% higher at 7506 as of 8:30am AEDT on Thursday, pointing to a rise at open.

The S&P inched up, paring earlier gains, but still posted its fourth consecutive record close, while the Dow Industrials slipped as investors digest the latest round of earnings reports.

Shares of big technology and communications companies helped drive the gains, while real estate, utilities, materials and consumer staples each fell over 1%. Energy stocks got a lift from rising oil and gas prices.

In commodity markets, Brent crude oil rose 0.93% to $US80.29 a barrel, Gold fell 0.75% to $US2,014.12 and Iron ore gained 0.4% to $US79.85 a barrel.

In local bond markets, yields on Australian 2 Year government bonds gained to 3.92% and the 10 Year yield also rose to 4.27%. Overseas, the US Treasury notes were mostly positive, with the yield on 2 Year edging up to 4.38% and the 10 Year yield gaining to 4.17%.

The Australian dollar was relatively flat at 65.76 US cents from its previous close of 67.78. The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which tracks the US dollar against 16 other currencies was flat at 97.84.


Chinese shares ended higher after swinging between gains and losses in volatile trading. To restore investor confidence, capital-market reforms such as more coordinated and proactive policy support are needed to improve the macro outlook, HSBC economists said in a note after a report that Beijing is weighing a market stabilization fund and other measures. Auto and consumer durable stocks led the gains. SAIC Motor climbed 2.35% and Dongfeng Automobile was 6.1% higher. Midea Group added 1.4% and Gree Electric Appliances increased 2.1%. East Money Information advanced 4.4%. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.8% to 2820.77, the Shenzhen Composite Index was 1.25% higher and the tech-heavy ChiNext Price Index was up 0.5%.

Hong Kong shares closed higher after PBOC Gov. Pan Gongsheng said the central bank will cut banks' reserve requirement ratio. The PBOC will lower the RRR by 0.5 percentage point starting Feb. 5. The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 3.6% to 15899.87 and the Hang Seng Tech Index gained 4.2%. Almost all sectors on the index advanced. Tech stocks led gains. Alibaba jumped 8.3% after media reports that founders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai recently raised their stakes in the company. Baidu and NetEase were up 6.7% and 6.6%, respectively. Meituan closed 6.0% higher. Country Garden Services advanced 5.9%. Country Garden Holdings added 4.6% as the developer seeks to sell some assets. Among the few decliners, Sino Biopharmaceutical was down 1.7% and WuXi AppTec dropped 1.0%.

Japanese stocks ended lower, dragged by falls in real-estate stocks, as government bond yields climb across the yield curve. Mitsui Fudosan dropped 4.2% and Mitsubishi Estate fell 3.8%. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group advanced 5.2% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group gained 4.0% as the 10-year Japanese government bond yield rose 8.5 basis points to 0.720%. The Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.8% to 36226.48. Investors will be focusing on earnings as Nidec's results due later kick off the earnings season.

Indian shares closed higher, led by steel and tech stocks, in a likely rebound following previous losses. Among top gainers, Tata Steel rose 3.9% and Zee Entertainment Enterprises rebounded after plunging yesterday and closed 6.7% higher. Tech Mahindra advanced 3.1% after its 3Q profit fell on lower revenue and higher expenses.Bank stocks fell, with ICICI Bank dropping 2.9% and Axis Bank down 2.8%. The benchmark Sensex closed 1.0% higher at 71060.31.


European markets gained amid hopes for a stimulus boost to the Chinese economy, lifting mining stocks. "European markets have seen a much more upbeat session today, carrying over the momentum from yesterday's positive US finish, but also getting a lift after China announced a 0.5% cut in the bank reserve requirement rate from Feb. 5," CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson wrote. The Stoxx Europe 600 and DAX rose 1%, and the CAC 40 rallied 0.9%, with Antofagasta, Anglo American and Glencore gaining. The Dow also rose 0.2%. Brent crude increased 0.6% to $80.05 a barrel as Middle East tensions continue. Haleon shares dropped 2% after JPMorgan said it expected the healthcare group's top line to disappoint investors.

The FTSE 100 index rose to a one-week high, ending the session 0.56% higher at 7,527.67 points on Wednesday, lifted by a rebound in basic resources and China-exposed stocks. "China-dependent luxury-goods and mining stocks helped the FTSE 100 to also perform amid talk of a new China stimulus package and as iron-ore prices are rising," IG Group analyst Axel Rudolph writes in a market comment. The London blue-chip index's top risers were Antofagasta, Endeavour Mining, Fresnillo, Anglo American and Burberry.

North America

The S&P inched up, paring earlier gains, but still posted its fourth consecutive record close, while the Dow Industrials slipped as investors digest the latest round of earnings reports. Shares of big technology and communications companies helped drive the gains, while real estate, utilities, materials and consumer staples each fell over 1%. Energy stocks got a lift from rising oil and gas prices. Netflix climbed 10%, after adding 13.1 million subscribers in 4Q. AT&T fell 3% after issuing disappointing guidance, and DuPont dropped 14% after warning of sluggish sales due to weak demand from China. DJIA fell 99 points to 37806, the S&P 500 gained 3 points to 4868 and the Nasdaq rose 0.4% to 15481.

Kimberly-Clark expects to continue dealing with higher costs this year, even if the expenses environment is forecast to be more stable. The maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers will remain at higher levels of costs, CFO Nelson Urdaneta says on a call with analysts. Distribution, logistics and labor inflation will keep being headwinds in 2024, and will offset the benefits coming from cheaper commodities like pulp, resin and energy in dollar terms, Urdaneta says. Shares drop 5.1% to $118.60.

Downtrodden shares of hydrogen-electric truck builder Nikola are getting a boost from Baird, which started coverage of the company with an "outperform" rating and a $2 price target. The firm says veteran automotive executive Steve Girsky "is bringing stability and valuable experience," as CEO after a revolving door on the C-suit in recent years that included the 2022 conviction of former CEO Trevor Milton on wire and securities fraud charges. Baird sees the "management team Girsky is building as a positive," for the stock, which Nasdaq recently threatened to delist for trading below $1. Shares up 5.3% at 69 cents.

Procter & Gamble's 4% share price jump on Tuesday suggests that investors walked away from its 4Q earnings report with a higher degree of confidence that the consumer-goods maker is on the path to volume growth and could see organic growth stabilize, or even accelerate, from here, UBS analysts say in a research note. The stock's rally came despite P&G's organic sales falling short of Wall Street expectations, probably due in part to management isolating the weakness to China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East while key developed markets saw an acceleration in volume growth, the analysts say.

Steel Dynamics says its aluminum rolling mill will cost $500,000 more than the original cost estimate, blaming the increase on higher than expected expenses for installing the equipment. The mill in Columbus, Miss., plus two plants in Mexico and Arizona where scrap will be melted into aluminum slabs, will cost $2.7 billion, CEO Mark Millett says. "We are disappointed with the cap-ex cost creep at Columbus," he says. "We're confident that that's the final creep." Millet says work on the mill is moving at a "breathtaking pace" and expects the project to be completed by the middle of next year. Shares are up 1.3% at $117.71.

The tobacco and nicotine industry is dealing with persistent pressure on its customers, including higher costs and heightened regulation that have accelerated down-trading and weighed on volumes, but industry heavyweight Altria Group is expected to have more than offset the volume decline with robust price increases in 4Q, Goldman Sachs analysts say in a research note. They expect Altria's smokeable segment to generate an operating profit during the quarter, which is a key driver of the stock, and remain bullish on Altria ahead of its 4Q report, even though the stock may remain range-bound until volume declines moderate.

Netflix's adoption of ad-supported subscriptions and its crackdown on password sharing weighed on revenue in the near-term, just as Macquarie analysts had been expecting, but they believe the streaming giant's excellent 4Q results show it has turned a corner. New ad-tier subscriptions are largely incremental rather than being driven by trade-down from paid plans, and after adding 29.5 million subscribers last year, the company is poised to now grow its average revenue per membership in 2024, the analysts say in a research note. They're expecting an acceleration in revenue and earnings this year and upgrade the stock to outperform. Shares rise 13% to $554.63.

Dupont's soft outlook for the current quarter pushes Wells Fargo analysts to the sidelines. They forecast a sharp decline of some 11% in the first half of the fiscal year, which the analysts say is still discounted even after the nearly 13% drop in the stock in afternoon trading. "While growth could turn the corner in 2H24, we believe the stock lacks a near-term catalyst to drive meaningful multiple expansion," they say. They cut the stock to equal weight and lower the price target to $69 from $85. Dupont is trading at $65.13.