Rising oil prices and a falling yen combined to push stocks higher in the global markets.
An oil workers’ strike in Kuwait has lifted oil prices to $41 a barrel, while Japan’s Nikkei rose over 3 percent after the Bank of Japan hinted it might take the value of the yen down even further. All the Asian markets closed higher as a result.
Europe followed those moves and also got an assist from Germany, where the investor confidence climbed for a second month. All of the European indices are trading higher.
U.S. stocks are continuing the rally and were helped by better-than-expected corporate earnings from UnitedHealth and Harley-Davidson Inc. The S&P 500 is higher by 5 points to 2,099, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 28 points to 18,034 and the Nasdaq is dropping 7 points to 4,951. The S&P Retail ETF is rising by 7 cents to $45.61.
Visa Inc. said it is launching new software that will trim almost 18 seconds from the checkout process when a chip-enabled card is used. The new cards are supposed to offer more security, but shoppers are frustrated with the extra time it takes. Merchants are annoyed that it has slowed down the time it takes to move customers through the checkout line. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it too has shaved about 11 seconds off the process. Visa stock is higher by 15 cents to sell at $81.60.
The precious metals markets are also moving strongly today. Silver was the big winner as it hit a ten-and-a-half month high at $16.93. Gold moved up $17.50 and now trades at $1,252 an ounce. A weaker-than-expected U.S. housing report boosted the price, which had already jumped on moves out of China. Overnight, China, which is the world’s largest producer and consumer of gold, began to set prices for gold twice a day. The move is an attempt to establish a benchmark in gold prices and assert its leadership in the gold market.
EBay Inc. is falling by over 2 percent to $24.75 after being downgraded by Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak to underweight. The analyst suggested eBay could see downside of as much as 11 percent and lowered the price target from $24.00 to $22.50. The main reason for the downgrade was concern over the international business.