Australian shares are set to open lower, after all major US benchmarks ended Wednesday down, Bitcoin surges.

ASX futures were slightly down 0.1% or 11 points as of 8:30am on Thursday, suggesting a lower open.

U.S. stocks declined as investors wait key inflation data due tomorrow.

The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.6% to 15948, the S&P 500 fell 0.2% to 5070 and the DJIA lost 0.1% to 38949.

In commodity markets, Brent crude oil fell 0.2% to US$83.47 a barrel, while gold was up 0.2% at US$2,033.63.

In local bond markets, the yield on Australian 2 Year government bonds was unchanged at 3.81% while the 10 Year yield was up at 4.16%. US Treasury notes were down, with the 2 Year yield at 4.65% and the 10 Year yield at 4.26%.

The Australian dollar hit 64.94 US cents down from its previous close of 65.43. The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which tracks the US dollar against 16 other currencies, was up at 98.60.


Chinese shares closed lower on likely profit-taking after gains on most sessions after the Lunar New Year holidays. Investors are looking to China's National People's Congress starting next week. Investors will watch for Beijing's fiscal stance in 2024, updates on property-sector policy and plans for stimulating consumption, Deutsche Bank said in a research note. All sectors closed lower, led by software and hardware makers. iFlytek dropped 4.5% and 360 Security Technology lost 4.3%. Foxconn Industrial Internet shed 5.85% and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology was 1.3% lower. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. lost 3.7%. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended 1.9% lower at 2957.85, the Shenzhen Composite Index dropped 3.8% while the ChiNext Price Index was off 2.5%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1.5% to close at 16536.85 amid Chinese property concerns triggered by Country Garden Holdings. The Chinese developer's shares dropped 6.5% after saying this morning that a creditor filed a winding-up petition against it in a Hong Kong court. Longfor Group declined 7.0% and China Resources Land slipped 4.3%. However, Hong Kong-focused developers advanced after the city's government eased housing-market curbs. New World Development gained 2.9% and Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 0.65%. "This is seen as a positive move and will likely create positive momentum for the market," said Marcos Chan, head of research at CBRE Hong Kong, in a note.

Japanese stocks are lower, dragged by falls in electronics and retail stocks, as profit-taking weighs following the benchmark's ascent to record highs in recent sessions. Renesas Electronics is down 2.6% and Omron is 2.4% lower while Aeon Co. is down 1.8% and MatsukiyoCocokara is 2.2% lower. USD/JPY is at 150.51, little changed from 150.52 as of Tuesday's Tokyo stock market close. Investors are focusing on economic data and their policy implications. The Nikkei Stock Average is down 0.1% at 39199.97 after hitting a new record high on Tuesday.

India's benchmark Sensex fell 1.1% to close at 72304.88, weighed by some auto and finance-related names. Investorsare waiting for further economic data this week that may help shape the trajectory of Fed monetary policy. Maruti Suzuki India was down 2.9%, while Mahindra & Mahindra was 2.7% lower. IndusInd Bank fell 2.9%, while ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank were both down 1.3%. Among individual movers, Vodafone Idea slumped 14%, following news of an equity-capital raising, and Power Grid Corp. was 4.4% lower.


In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.35% to 494.59. Sydbank added 9.5% and Zealand Pharma rose 3.6%. On the other hand, Worldline sunk 10.2%. Other stocks in Europe were flat as France's CAC 40 was flat and Germany's DAX held steady.

The FTSE 100 dropped 0.8% to a 12-day low of 7620.37, significantly underperforming European peers due to a sharp slide for consumer-goods company Reckitt Benckiser and wealth-management firm St. James's Place as earnings spark concern. St. James's Place shares are down 26.1% at an 11-year low, after slashing its dividend in anticipation of slower profit growth due to changes to its charging structure. Reckitt Benckiser lost 11.9% after missing fourth-quarter revenue expectations. Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey fell 5% after reporting a fall in 2023 pretax profit. Banks and retailers were among the risers.

North America

U.S. stocks declined as investors wait key inflation data due tomorrow.

The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.6% to 15948, the S&P 500 fell 0.2% to 5070 and the DJIA lost 0.1% to 38949.

The PCE gauge is expected to show prices losing steam, but just a little. Any surprises could scramble forecasts about when the Fed will start cutting rates, potentially moving stock prices.

Bitcoin topped $64,000, reaching levels not seen in two years and lifting cryptocurrency ETFs. The Valkyrie Bitcoin Futures Leveraged Strategy ETF gained 12%.