United States stocks surged back into positive territory: ASX set to open higher


The Australian share market has pulled itself off the canvas and finished slightly higher after a choppy day's trading and despite the U.S. futures markets looking ominous. That contrasts with the momentum of the USA economy.

The company, which came under intense scrutiny from the royal commission into the country's financial sector for wrongdoing earlier this year, also said it was contemplating an initial public offering for its New Zealand wealth management and advice businesses in 2019.

The strong US economy has helped power earnings growth for companies in the S&P 500.

"Despite yesterday's rally in stocks, investors are still wary that further moves to the downside could be coming", Rakuten Securities strategist Nick Twidale said.

Main US equities crashed after the opening bell on Wall Street.

Stocks are closing sharply lower on Wall Street, led by a swoon in technology companies.

The Dow fell 2.41 percent and the S&P 500 lost 3.09 percent. The Nasdaq slid 131 points, or 1.8 percent, to 7,306. In late afternoon trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index tanked 130.72 points, or 2.24%, at 5,698.30 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 133.32 points, or 2.25%, to 5,793.20 points. The index is now down for the year.

About 9.6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange's volatility index, known as the VIX, or fear index, jumped 14 percent to its highest level in two weeks.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 608.15 points, or 2.41 per cent, to 24,583.28, the S&P 500 lost 84.53 points, or 3.08 per cent, to 2,656.16 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 329.14 points, or 4.43 per cent, to 7,108.40.

Recent signs that the housing market is slowing are fuelling speculation that USA economic growth will start to slow next year.

Heavyweight investors have become increasingly nervous about lofty stock prices, faster rate hikes in the United States and an ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war that threatens to hurt world growth.

Technology and health care companies also took heavy losses Tuesday. Intel, due to report earnings later this week, fell 4.7 percent.

Dow futures erased losses on Wednesday after Boeing posted stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings. Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search were lower in a range of 1% to 2%. 3M Co. plunged 6.8 percent after third-quarter profits missed expectations and the company cut its full-year earnings forecast. Investors bid up shares in utilities, real estate companies and other high-yield stocks.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 4.4 percent to $66.33 per barrel in NY.

ENERGY: Crude oil prices were headed higher Wednesday, clawing back part of a sharp decline a day earlier. Halliburton dropped 3.3 percent to $35.21. Even the dollar eased to 112.08 yen.

In Europe, the focus was on Italy's dispute with the European Union over its plan to ramp up public spending. Chinese shares opened in the red too with the blue-chip SSE Composite index.SSEC plummeting 2.5 percent. It's anxious that the plans would prevent Italy from lowering its debt, which is second only to Greece among its members. Britain's FTSE 100 picked up 0.9 percent.