The Australian stock market is trading higher today. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 56 points or 1.51% to 3,736, after closing nearly three percent higher on Thursday. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 53 points or 1.45% to 3,675.
Services sector activity remained weak in March, the latest Australian Industry Group - Commonwealth Bank Performance of Services Index revealed today. The seasonally adjusted Australian PSI rose by 3.4 points to 35.6 in March, still well below the 50.0 points level separating expansion from contraction.
Conditions in the services sector remain overwhelmingly weak with all sectors in all states deteriorating. Although the deterioration in activity remains broadly-based, the pace of decline eased in five sectors, including in property & business services, which appears to have benefited from a boost to the first homebuyers grants and cuts in the official interest rate.
The Australian dollar extended Thursday's uptrend against the US dollar and rose to a near 3-month high of 0.7232 during Friday's early Asian trading, by about 8:15 pm ET. Thereafter, the Aussie reversed the direction and is now trading at 0.7133. This may be compared to Thursday's closing value of 0.7155.
Across the Atlantic, investors are keenly awaiting for the US non farm payrolls report that is scheduled to be released at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect the report to show 660,000 job losses in March from 651,000 jobs lost in the previous month.
At 10:00 am ET, the U.S. Institute for Supply Management will release its non-manufacturing report for March. The index is expected to improve marginally to 42.0 in March from 41.6 in February.
Also, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak in Charlotte, North Carolina at 12:00 pm ET, just after Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn speaks in Wooster, Ohio.
The Australian dollar pulled back against its European counterpart after climbing to a near 3-month high of 1.8661 by about 8:15 pm ET Thursday. The Aussie dropped to 1.8833 by about 10:35 pm ET, which may be compared to Thursday's New York session closing value of 1.8827. On the downside, the Aussie may likely target the 1.92 level against the European currency.
The German import price index, Italian February PPI, French Euro-Zone, German, Italy and Italian Services PMI reports are expected in the upcoming session.
The Australian dollar climbed to its highest level since October 21, 2008 against the Japanese yen by about 8:20 pm ET, before losing ground. The Aussie fell to 70.96 against the Japanese unit by about 10:20 pm ET, compared to 71.22 hit late Thursday in New York. The pair is now trading at 71.25.
The Australian dollar that was worth 1.2391 against the New Zealand dollar at yesterday's New York session close, dropped to a 3-day low of 1.2211 during Friday's early Asian trading. If the Aussie slides further, 1.20 is seen as the next likely target level.
The Australian dollar weakened to 0.8852 against the Canadian dollar by about 9:55 pm ET Thursday, after rising to 0.8936 by about 8:15 pm ET. At Thursday's North American session close, the Aussie-loonie pair was quoted at 0.8854.
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