Economic Indicators 22/3/12

International Markets

U.S. markets posted gains after a steady reading from home builders. The U.S. home builders’ confidence index in the housing market held steady in March, at the highest level in nearly five years.

The Dow Jones added 6.51 points, to 13239.13. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 5.58 points, or 0.4%, to 1409.75. The Nasdaq Composite added 23.06 points, or 0.8%, to 3078.32. In Europe, The Stoxx Europe 600 index lost 0.1% to 272.07.

The U.K. FTSE 100 index traded 0.1% lower at 5,961.11 as banks and utilities firms edged lower, the Paris CAC 40 index closed 0.5% lower at 3,577.88 and The DAX 30 index was off 0.1% at 7,154.22.

This morning Asian stock markets were lower as the absence of catalysts and a holiday in Japan resulted in lower trading levels, while downbeat comments about Chinese growth from BHP Billiton officials added pressure on the Australian dollar and the Sydney market.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3%, South Korea’s Kospi Composite lost 0.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.7%, China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.8% and India’s Sensex was up 0.6%. Markets in Japan are shut for a holiday.

The US dollar is currently trading at 1.32 to the euro, 1.59 to the pound and will buy 83.42 Japanese Yen or 7.54 South African Rand.

Domestic markets

South African stocks ended flat yesterday, as banking shares followed European markets down on renewed Greek jitters.

At the close, the JSE all-share index was flat (-0.02%) at 34,214.07 points.

Banks gave up 0.94%, gold miners lost 0.73%, and financials shaved off 0.20%.

Industrials were down 0.16%. Resources, however, added 0.30%, while platinum miners gained 0.26% Bonds remained flat, shrugging off the release of current account data contained in the Reserve Bank’s latest quarterly bulletin.

At the close, the R157 bond was bid at 6.850% and offered at 6.830% from its previous close of 6.825%. The R207 was bid at 7.930% and offered at 7.900% from a previous close of 7.900% and the R186 was bid at 8.435% and offered at 8.405% from its close of 8.400%.

Commodities

Brent crude oil prices remained strong as tension over Iran’s nuclear programme supported prices, offsetting news of an increase in production from Saudi Arabia and efforts by the United States to ease supply fears.

Spot gold is currently trading at US$ 1657.02/oz. and platinum at US$ 1677.00/oz. Brent crude oil is currently trading at US$ 125.10 per barr

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