Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, August 31:
1. Global stocks gain as sentiment improves
Global stock markets pushed higher, as upbeat Chinese and U.S. economic data boosted appetite for riskier assets.
Stock markets across Asia ended mixed, with benchmarks in Tokyo and Sydney rising, while Shanghai and Seoul finished lower.
In Europe, shares edged higher, with almost all major bourses across the region in positive territory.
Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures pointed to a stronger open on Wall Street, with the major benchmarks up around 0.3%.
2. Markets await key batch of U.S. data
Market players looked ahead to a key batch of U.S. economic data to further gauge the strength of the world's largest economy and how it will impact the Federal Reserve's view on monetary policy.
The U.S. is to release reports on personal income and consumer spending for July, which include the personal consumption expenditures inflation data , the Fed's preferred metric for inflation, at 8:30AM ET (1230GMT).
The U.S. dollar index , which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was a shade higher at 92.92, extending a recovery from a 2-1/2-year low of 91.55 touched on Tuesday.
The dollar was also higher against the yen , hitting a two-week peak of 110.60.
3. Gasoline futures soar above $2 as refineries stay shut after Harvey
Gasoline futures for September delivery, which expires at the end of today's trading session, briefly jumped by almost 7% to hit $2.01 a gallon.
That was the first time since July 2015 that a front-run contract climbed above the $2-handle, as flooding from Harvey knocked out almost a quarter of U.S. refineries and prompted fears of a supply squeeze.
4. Upbeat China data sends industrial metals flying
Industrial metals rallied after data showed that growth in China's manufacturing sector unexpectedly accelerated in August, suggesting the world's second-largest economy is still expanding at a healthy clip.
The official Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 51.7 in August from the previous month's 51.4, confounding economists' expectations for a marginal decline.
Copper futures climbed 1.1% percent to $3.120 a pound, the highest since October 2014, while iron ore prices climbed almost 4% in China. Other industrial metals, such as zinc , nickel and lead were also higher.
China is the world's biggest consumer of metals and construction is a key driver of demand.
5. Euro zone inflation gathers pace
Inflation in the euro zone climbed more than expected in August, setting the stage for European Central Bank policymakers to debate the future of their stimulus program.
Consumer prices rose 1.5% in August, the highest level since April of this year, the European Union’s statistics office said. That was above expectations for an increase of 1.4% and compared a final reading of a 1.3% advance in the prior month.
Core inflation, which is closely watched by the European Central Bank, held at a four-year high of 1.2% , giving the ECB more ground for tightening its monetary policy in autumn.
The euro was a touch higher at 1.1900 against the dollar.
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