Australian shares are set to open higher, with US stocks rising Thursday after dovish Powell comments.

ASX futures were up 0.6% or 45 points as of 8:30am on Friday, suggesting a higher open.

U.S. stocks extended the previous session's gains as Fed Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers the central bank was "not far" from being able to cut interest rates.

The DJIA gained 130 points, or 0.3%, to 38791, the S&P 500 climbed 1% to 5157 and the Nasdaq rose 1.5% to 16273.

In commodity markets, Brent crude oil was down 0.2% to US$82.79 a barrel, while gold was up 0.5% at US$2,158.83.

In local bond markets, the yield on Australian 2 Year government bonds was up at 3.74% while the 10 Year yield was also up at 4.01%. US Treasury notes were down, with the 2 Year yield at 4.51% and the 10 Year yield down at 4.08%.

The Australian dollar hit 66.18 US cents up from its previous close of 65.62. The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index, which tracks the US dollar against 16 other currencies, was down at 97.56.


Chinese shares closed lower amid various geopolitical concerns. Pharmaceutical stocks were the biggest laggards of this session after a U.S. Senate committee advanced a bill targeting certain Chinese biotech providers. WuXi AppTec, which was named in the bill, slumped the daily-permitted maximum of 10% and Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine was 4.6% lower. Semiconductor stocks also declined broadly on a news report of the U.S. urging allies to tighten China's access to chip technology.Hygon Information Technology dropped 4.2% and LONGi Green Energy Technology was 2.9% lower. Energy stocks rose, with Cnooc 3.6% higher. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4% to 3027.40, the Shenzhen Composite Index was off by 1.2%, and the ChiNext Price Index shed 2.3%.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.3% to close at 16229.78. Biotech stocks weighed in the day's session on renewed U.S. sanction concerns, spurred by news that a U.S. bill targeting some Chinese biotech companies had received the green light to move to the Senate floor. WuXi AppTec and Wuxi Biologics each slumped 21%. Among other decliners, Zhongsheng Group lost 6.4% and Li Auto was down 5.8%. Meanwhile, gained 6.0% after its earnings beat analysts' estimates, while Wharf Real Estate Investment Company rose 5.7%. The Hang Seng Tech Index closed 1.6% lower.

Japanese stocks ended lower, dragged by falls in auto and chip stock as the yen rebounded to a one-month high amid growing expectations around the Bank of Japan's shift away from its ultra-low interest rate policy. Nissan Motor lost 4.8% and Tokyo Electron Ltd. dropped 3.9%. The Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.2% to 39598.71 after hitting a new record intraday high of 40472.11 earlier. USD/JPY was at 148.57, compared with 149.41 as of Wednesday 5 p.m. Eastern Time. The currency pair fell to 148.41 earlier, its lowest level since Feb. 8, after BOJ board member Junko Nakagawa said the economy is making steady progress toward achieving its price goal.

India's benchmark Sensex ended flat at 74119.39 amid cautious sentiment. Investors were likely waiting for U.S. weekly jobless claims data due out later in the day, as well as Fed Chair Jerome Powell's second day of Congressional testimony. Steel and finance stocks were among gainers. Tata Steel rose 3.9% and Tata Motors added 2.1%. Among finance stocks, Bajaj Finserv was up 2.0% and Bajaj Finance was 1.7% higher. Meanwhile, Mahindra & Mahindra fell 3.7% after news a major shareholder plans to trim its stake. Reliance Industries was down 1.6%.


The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed at a new record high of 503.16 after the ECB softened its inflation projections. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX also ended at all-time highs, closing at 8,016.2 and 17,842.9 respectively. Eurozone government bond yields extended their decline, the euro fell and European stocks hit new record highs after the European Central Bank's left rates unchanged and cut 2024 forecasts for inflation and growth, potentially paving the way for rate cuts in the coming months. The ECB lowered its 2024 inflation forecast to 2.3% from 2.7% previously. The 10-year German Bund yield traded 6 basis points lower at 2.272%, down from 2.302% before the announcement, according to Tradeweb.

The FTSE 100 closed up for the third consecutive day on Thursday ending the session up 0.2%, and up 52.13 points, or 0.68%, over the past three days, as the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged again despite a less-than-ideal economic outlook and lowered inflation forecasts. "The ECB is inching toward a pivot where it cuts rates, but it doesn't want to beat the U.K. or U.S. to the post. Once rates start to be cut, the pressure is on to keep doing it, whereas central banks don't want to act in haste," AJ Bell analyst Dan Coatsworth says in a note. Rentokil Initial led the day's biggest risers, closing up 18%, followed by Anglo American, up 5.1%, and Ocado, up 4.7%. Entain was the session's biggest faller, down 4.9%.

North America

U.S. stocks extended the previous session's gains as Fed Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers the central bank was "not far" from being able to cut interest rates.

The DJIA gained 130 points, or 0.3%, to 38791, the S&P 500 climbed 1% to 5157 and the Nasdaq rose 1.5% to 16273.

Economists are looking for economic data to cool in coming months with the February payrolls growth pegged at 198,000.

Big technology stocks regained their footing posting broad gains and sending the S&P 500 to another new high.

The dollar weakened along with Treasury yields, while the gold notched another fresh high.