In Asian Equity Markets stocks took a beating on Friday after a fresh salvo of hawkish remarks from Federal Reserve officials solidified expectations that U.S. interest rates could rise as soon as March, leaving markets braced for tighter monetary conditions. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.8 percent in mid-morning trade, while Australia lost 1.2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.9 percent by the midday break. China’s blue-chip index was down 0.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was off 0.6 percent.

In Currency Markets the dollar headed for its largest weekly fall in eight months on Friday as investors trimmed long positions and deemed, for now, that several U.S. rate hikes this year are fully priced in. The euro is up more than 0.8 percent for the week so far, and has punched out of a range it held since late November. The yen has rallied 1 percent over the week, and pushed back through 115 to the dollar, last holding at 114.13. The Aussie briefly broke above stubborn resistance around $0.7276 this week, but retreated to that level on Friday.

In US Equity Markets major indexes closed lower on Thursday with Nasdaq’s 2.5 percent decrease leading the losses as investors took profits, particularly in technology stocks after a three-day rally, while multiple Federal Reserve officials were out talking about inflation and interest rate hikes. The Dow fell 0.49 percent, to 36,113.62, the S&P 500 lost 1.42 percent, to 4,659.03 and the Nasdaq Composite fell to 14,806.81.  The S&P’s technology index fell 2.7 percent while consumer discretionary fell 2 percent. Delta Air Lines closed up 2 percent at $41.47 after beating estimates for fourth-quarter earnings.

In Commodities Markets oil prices edged lower on Thursday as investors took profits after two days of gains amid fears of aggressive U.S. interest rate hikes, but the losses were cushioned by expectations of a strong economic recovery that will boost demand in a tightly supplied market. U.S. WTI crude futures settled down 0.6 percent, at $82.12 a barrel. Brent crude futures fell 0.2 percent, to $84.47 a barrel. Spot gold fell 0.3 percent to $1,820.71 per ounce. Spot silver was unchanged at $23.11 an ounce, while platinum was down 0.5 percent to $972.49, and palladium fell 0.8 percent to $1,895.17.

In European Equity Markets stocks languished on Thursday as traders braced for an onslaught of corporate earnings which will show how companies fared with rising inflation. The Stoxx Europe 600 was fractionally higher at 486.41. The major regional indexes were mixed — the German DAX rose 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 declined 0.5 percent while the U.K. FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent after reaching a two-year high on Wednesday. Countryside Properties skidded 27 percent as the U.K. builder warned on first-quarter results and announced its chief executive was quitting.

In Bond Markets treasuries showed a lack of direction in morning trading on Thursday but moved modestly higher as the day progressed. Bond prices moved to the upside in afternoon trading after spending the morning lingering near the unchanged line. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by 1.4 basis points to 1.711 percent. The thirty-year bond auction drew a high yield of 2.075 percent and a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.35, while the ten previous thirty-year bond auctions had an average bid-to-cover ratio of 2.29.

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