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Modest gains following mixed leads from US

11.31 AEST, Thursday 6 December 2012

Modest gains following mixed leads from US
By Miguel Audencial (Sales Trader, CMC Markets)

The Australian share market had modest gains to start the session today with mixed leads from US economic data and the stalemate on fiscal cliff negotiations. The market is likely to swing between small gains and losses for today’s session unless the Australian employment figures, released later today, are significantly different from expectations.

The energy sector underperformed the market this morning due to weaker crude oil prices. While the materials sector is outperforming with bellwethers BHP and RIO leading the charge.

The US had two important economic data releases overnight. The ADP Non-Farm payroll figure disappointed, falling short of expectations. The ISM Non-Manufacturing figure provided a more encouraging number of 54.7, above expectations of 53.6.

Fiscal-cliff negotiations continue to drag on with politicians appearing to use the public forum to campaign their arguments rather than discussing it amongst themselves to reach a compromise. Earlier this week, President Obama used Twitter to relay his views to his followers.

Crude oil was lower overnight despite a higher than expected decrease in supplies. Inventories dropped by 2.4 million barrels, 2 million more than expected. A stronger US dollar is partly to blame for this. Another reason for the weaker price is that gasoline supplies reported a higher than predicted increase. Apprehensions about the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations cannot be discounted.

US unemployment data is due later tonight and the widely watched US Non-Farm figure will be released on Friday.

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