DATA POINTS: Bank of England minutes released Thursday noted improving economic prospects for the U.K., which is one of Europe’s mainstay economies. Job figures from Australia showed unexpected improvement. The United States, the world’s biggest economy, has released a string of robust employment data while officials in No. 2 economy China have been insisting its growth is on a steady path. In the past week, both Japan and the bloc of euro countries revised recent GDP growth figures, leading to a less pessimistic view of those economies.
FED MEETING: Traders remain focused on a two-day meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers next week. They are trying to anticipate when and how quickly the central bank will begin to raise interest rates from their historically low levels. Those low rates have been a key factor sending stock prices higher over the past seven years. A report Thursday showing a decline in applications for unemployment claims was the latest optimistic sign on the job market, which could prompt the Fed to tighten credit.
QUOTABLE: “Yesterday’s Bank of England minutes noted positive economic prospects and encouraged markets to the view that it’s likely to follow the Fed by beginning to lift interest rates next year,” said Ric Spponer, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “This provides context to the view that markets might ultimately see Fed rate tightening as a positive development, providing leadership to global markets and allowing interest rates to normalize as economies gradually improve.”
WALL STREET: Stocks in the U.S. bucked Thursday’s global market slump after an intraday rise in oil prices pushed shares of energy companies higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 76.83 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 16,330.40. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 10.25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,952.29. The Nasdaq composite climbed 39.72 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,796.25.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 18 cents at $45.74 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures contract rose $1.77 to close at $45.92 a barrel in New York on Thursday after Energy Department data showed an increase in gasoline demand over the past four weeks compared with a year earlier. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 12 cents at $48.77 in London after rising $1.31 to close at $48.89 a barrel in the previous trading day.
CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.1283 from $1.1289 the previous day. The dollar rose to 120.82 yen from 120.73 yen.