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Stock markets, commodities head higher

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"Equities look set to follow the US markets lower in the Asian session".

European stocks opened mostly higher on Thursday as markets in Asia and Wall Street pause for breath amid falling oil prices.

Banks and health care companies also slid, while consumer-focused companies moved higher on strong quarterly earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.95 points, or 0.22%, to 18,492.1, the S&P 500 lost 6.5 points, or 0.3%, to 2,175.24 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 26.05 points, or 0.5%, to 5,199.43.

A rally since late June has taken the S&P 500 up over 6 percent in 2016, as continued low interest rates encourage investors to buy USA equities, although many investors are concerned about high valuations.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.51 per cent to 5,198.59.

NEW ZEALAND'S CUT: New Zealand's central bank on Thursday cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low 2 percent, but its efforts to boost inflation and lower the currency failed to impress traders, who bid the New Zealand dollar higher. The greenback has retreated from gains in the wake of Friday's strong jobs report. Deutsche Telekom's second quarter profits also fell, but the company confirmed its guidance for the full year. "Second, economic news.is expected to be mixed", said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

"If you have low volumes, it could skew the market in any direction, and that's what you have today".

SHAKEN: Hamburger chain Shake Shack slumped 7.1 percent after it said sales at older locations slowed down in the latest quarter. Kimco Realty slid 33 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $30.74. The stock lost 4.47 dollars (£3.43) to 10.31 dollars (£7.90).

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NOT IN STYLE: Michael Kors slid 1.8% after the clothing company forecast weaker sales for the current quarter and lowered its outlook for sales at established stores. The stock fell 48 cents to $49.63.

GOOD REVIEW: Yelp jumped 14.5 percent after the online business review portal reported strong quarterly results. The stock climbed $3.94 to $36.58. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 66 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $42.11 per barrel in NY. The Nasdaq composite fell 21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,205.

DATA: The Japan's government said earlier in the day that the country's core private-sector machinery orders grew a seasonally adjusted 8.3 percent in June from May, a rebound from two straight months of decline. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,543.70. South Korea's Kospi added less than 0.1 percent.

"Investors have been weighing upbeat USA labour market data against the prospect of higher interest rates and a decline in oil prices", said Bjoern Jesch, chief investment officer at Union Investment.

A report showing a bigger-than-expected increase in USA oil stockpiles last week weighed on the price of crude, reversing an early gain.

On the currency front, the US dollar is trading at 101.30 yen compared to the 101.29 yen it fetched at the close of NY trading on Wednesday. The contract fell 25 cents Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price global oils, slid 9 cents to $43.95 in London from $44.05.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.52 per cent.

Oil prices fell 1.6 percent in choppy trading after the US government reported a surprise crude stockpile build.

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