Wall Street has posted slight gains overnight as IBM raised its full-year outlook, eBay, Microsoft and Google beat analysts’ earnings forecasts and Qualcomm said it was expecting a strong December quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index both closed up 0.3%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.8%.

European markets were also up overnight, with the UK’s FTSE 100 adding 0.5%, Germany’s DAX jumped 1.1% while Paris’ CAC 40 rose 0.9%.

The Australian dollar has climbed higher against the US dollar, now buying 104.2 US cents. Since the beginning of June 2012, the Aussie dollar has climbed 8 cents against the greenback. Perhaps a good time to travel overseas, or add to your international investments.

Commodities were up overnight, with spot gold rising slightly to US$1,581.41 an ounce, while oil (Brent crude) put on close to 2%, to trade at US$107.80 a barrel. Copper was also up, hitting its highest intraday level in more than two weeks, and heading for its second consecutive week of gains.

Soft start ahead

The ASX SPI futures have closed up 4 points, suggesting the S&P / ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) could open flat this morning.

Sydney Airport Holdings (ASX: SYD) will release its full-year sales and traffic data, which could see Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) and Virgin Australia Holdings (ASX: VAH) in focus.

Fairfax Media Limited’s (ASX: FXJ) most recently appointed board member, Jack Cowin believes there is room for Gina Rinehart to join the Fairfax board. We have yet to hear Ms Rinehart’s thoughts on Mr Cowin’s appointment, and whether she is still keen on a number of board seats.

The high and rising Australian dollar could see listed travel companies in focus, with Flight Centre Limited (ASX: FLT) and Jetset Travelworld Limited (ASX: JET) likely to benefit from increased international travel bookings.

Foolish takeaway

The high Australian dollar will impact those Australian companies with earnings offshore and exporters, and it could be more bad news for Australian retailers, as shoppers head online.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Flight Centre. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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