(Kitco News) - World stock markets were mostly higher overnight as investor risk appetite has up-ticked quickly after Tuesday's latest provocation from North Korea, in which it fired a missile over Japan. Upbeat economic data from the U.S., China and the European Union is keeping investors in a positive mood. U.S. stock indexes are also pointed toward firmer openings when the New York day session begins.
Gold prices are weaker on the better investor risk appetite and on some more profit taking from recent gains that saw prices earlier this week hit an 11-month high.
Today is the last trading day of the month, which makes it a more important day from a charts perspective. A monthly high or low close in a market today would be very significant, from a technical perspective.
In overnight news, inflation in the Euro zone came in higher than expected, at up 1.5% in August, year-on-year. The July reading was up 1.3%. The European Central Bank wants to see annual inflation of around 2.0%. Also, Euro zone unemployment held steady in July, at 9.1%.
China on Thursday reported its August manufacturing purchasing managers' index at 51.7, which was above market expectations. A reading above 50.0 suggests growth in the sector.
The major U.S. data point of the week is Friday's employment situation report for August from the Labor Department. The key non-farm jobs number was forecast to come in at up around 180,000. However, Wednesday's higher-than-expected ADP jobs number has many thinking Friday's employment report will also be a surprise to the upside.
The U.S. dollar index is higher early Thursday, on more short covering after hitting a 15-month low on Tuesday. The greenback bears still have the firm overall near-term technical advantage.
The other key outside market sees Nymex crude oil futures firmer on short covering. Prices are in a four-week-old downtrend on the daily bar chart and the bears have the overall near-term technical advantage.
U.S. economic data due for release Thursday includes the weekly jobless claims report, the Challenger job-cuts report, personal income and outlays, the ISM Chicago business survey, pending home sales and the monthly retail chain store sales reports.