The Australian dollar basked atop multi-month highs after a spate of positive data showing the local GDP growing by a surprising 0.6% q/q in the fourth quarter of 2016, beating expectations of a 0.5% growth. On an annual basis, the economy grew 0.3%, while other data showed the trade balance deficit down to 2.94 billion Aussies, compared to expectations of minus 3.22B.
Also supporting the currency, the central bank's decision in its last meeting to keep interest rates unchanged despite the global headwinds, limiting the liquidity in the markets as buoying the currency. Aussie rose 0.25% against its American rival, added to its 1.7% surge yesterday to trade at 0.7316.
Australian shares were also higher on the day, cheering the rise of commodity prices this week, with the local bourse gaining 1.20%, while Japan's Nikkei index power 1.28% higher, added to the four-percent jump yesterday. China's Shanghai was flat however, affected by weakening services PMI data, showing the extent of the slowdown in the world's second largest economy.
Gold prices were flat on the day, trading at $1,241 an ounce, but silver futures on the other hand soared, climbing 23 cents, or 1.57% to $14.96 an ounce, coming near the coveted $15 level again. Copper futures slipped 0.23% after gains at the start of the week, trading last at $2.184 a pound.
Crude prices recorded small losses in profit-taking, with Brent crude futures edging down 13 cents, or 0.35% to hover around $36.80 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures didn't move away from its last closing price at $34.66 a barrel, despite a massive increase in U.S. crude stocks last week.
Wall Street registered small profits on Wednesday, buoyed by banking shares in particular, with Dow Jones closing 34 points higher, or 0.20% at 16,899, while NASDAQ Composite rose 13 points, or 0.29% to end at 4,703. S&P 500 added eight points, or 0.41% to 1,986.
A spate of data is awaited today, with Britain's Services PMI expected to slow down to 55.1 in February from January's 55.6, but still at a healthy pace of expansion, which would underpin the British pound further in its current recovery.
From the U.S., Final Services PMI for February is forecast to stay the same at 49.8 as the previous reading. A result below 50 indicates contraction, which would be negative for the world's biggest economy and the greenback.