Wall Street mainly up as jobless claims hit five-decade low

US stocks mainly rose on Wednesday as US jobless claims hit the lowest level since 1969.

Americans claiming for unemployment welfare were 190,000 for the week, way below the estimate of 260,000.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up by 0.23% and 0.44% respectively, but the Dow Jones was little changed, falling slightly by 0.03%.

Computer maker HP was the best performer, rising by 10% after reporting solid financial results. 

However fashion retailer Gap and department store Nordstrom both nosedived more than 20% after reporting weak third quarter earnings.

In other markets, the spot iron ore price is bouncing back strongly, rising by another 3% overnight and is now trading at US$100 at $US102.75 a tonne.

Sentiment in the steel market has been lifted since Evergrande averted a default last week, and China’s central bank telling its banks to issue more loans for property projects with the aim of easing liquidity strains.

To cryptos where Bitcoin is little changed at US$57,300 at 8am AEDT, from the US$57,000  level yesterday.

Meanwhile, Australia’s central bank is reportedly considering creating a blockchain-based currency for wholesale use, to settle transactions between banks instantly.

The RBA assistant governor Michele Bullock told the Women in Payments event that the central bank digital currency would allow commercial banks to reduce transaction costs and risks.

Read the rest of that story here on Stockhead.

ASX 200 to open higher on Thursday

The ASX 200 looks set to open slightly higher this morning, with futures markets (December contracts) pointing just slightly up by 0.09% at 8:30am AEDT.

Yesterday, the local index drifted sideways and closed lower by 0,15%,  as uncertainty continues to linger around the outlook for monetary policy, interest rates and broader market liquidity.

This morning, respiratory device maker Fisher & Pykel (ASX:FPH) reported a first half NPAT of $222m, down 2% from the same period a year ago.

Listing today at 11am AEDT  Radiopharm Theranostics (ASX:RAD), a clinical stage radiotherapeutics company targeting cancer. The company has raised $50m at 60c a share.

In the economics calendar, due to be released today are the business sentiment index for the September quarter, and the weekly payroll.

Retailers are also anxiously waiting for the Black Friday / Cyber Monday event to start tomorrow, with some experts expecting sales to surpass last year’s record.

5 ASX small caps to watch today

Adairs Ltd (ASX:ADH)

The homeware retailer acquired Focus on Furniture, an omni-channel furniture retailer, for $80 million. The acquisition will be funded by $74m of debt, and $6m placement of Adairs shares.

Apiam Animal Health (ASX:AHX)

Apiam continued its regional expansion by acquiring Fraser Coast Veterinary Services and North Hill Veterinary Clinic. Total acquisition consideration is $3.6m, and the acquisitions are expected to add $5.2m in revenue and $0.6m in EBITDA (on FY21 basis).

Helios Energy (ASX:HE8)

Helios has concluded an agreement with oil major Chevron regarding the acquisition of new seismic in Presidio County owned by Chevron. Helios will undertake the works required to acquire the seismic, and will share the data with Chevron.

Altech Chemicals (ASX:ATC)

The company says it has made a breakthrough in lithium-ion battery (LIB) technology, after being able to produce a series of LIB anode materials that have ~30% higher retention capacity compared to conventional LIB anode materials. 

Openn Negotiation (ASX:OPN)

The property tech company has signed deals with two real estate brokerage firms to participate in the company’s pilot program in the US. Under the agreement, pilot brokerages are required to allocate between four and ten realtors to train and test the Openn Platform in their respective markets.