In Asian Equity Markets Japanese stocks inched down in seesaw trading on Friday as technology stocks pulled back from early gains, with investors remaining cautious about the pace of domestic economic recovery. The Nikkei index inched down 0.06 percent to 28,939.16, while the broader Topix was down 0.23 percent to 1,952.24. The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked up 0.18 percent. Seoul’s Kospi was up 0.32 percent, Australian stocks added 0.14 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.53 percent. Chinese blue-chip shares were down more than 1 percent.
In Currency Markets the dollar nursed small losses, as traders figured there were enough one-offs in last month’s 0.6 percent rise in consumer prices to support the Federal Reserve’s insistence that inflation was likely to be transitory. The dollar bought 109.37 yen and was headed for a small weekly loss. It was also on track for modest weekly losses on the Aussie dollar and British pound, last trading at $0.7748 per Aussie and $1.4171 per pound. The US dollar index fell slightly after the inflation figures were published and last sat at 90.041, more or less flat for the week.
In US Equity Markets stocks ended higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 closing above its prior record high set on May 7, as economic data appeared to support the Fed’s assertion that the current wave of heightened inflation will be temporary. The Dow rose 0.06 percent, to 34,466.24; the S&P 500 gained 0.47 percent, at 4,239.18; and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.78 percent, at 14,020.33. Pfizer Inc advanced 2.2 percent on news that the United States would pay the drugmaker about $3.5 billion for 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that it intends to donate to the 100 lowest income countries.
In Commodities Markets oil prices edged up to their highest in more than two years in volatile trade on optimism for strong economic demand after new U.S. unemployment claims fell to their lowest since the country’s first wave of COVID-19 last year. Brent futures settled up 30 cents at $72.52 a barrel, while U.S. WTI crude rose 33 cents to settle at $70.29 a barrel. Spot gold rose 0.3 percent to $1,893.75 per ounce. Among other metals, palladium fell 0.6 percent to $2,762.56, while platinum fell 0.4 percent to $1,145.23. Silver rose 0.5 percent to $27.88 per ounce.
In European Equity Markets stocks inched to fresh peaks on Thursday as the European Central Bank raised its recovery outlook and promised to keep ample stimulus flowing, while travel stocks fell after a recent run of gains. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up just 0.1 percent, but at a fresh record high of 455.76 points, while the narrower index of euro zone stocks fell 0.1 percent. UK’s FTSE 100 was boosted by a 6.6 percent rise in BT Group after Altice Group said it had taken a 12.1 percent stake in Britain’s biggest broadband and mobile operator.
In Bond Markets investors reversed course and sent longer-term U.S. Treasury yields lower during a see-saw trading session on Thursday, suggesting an embrace of the view that inflationary pressures are temporary. The benchmark 10-year yield was down 2.2 basis points at 1.4671 percent in afternoon trading, near its low for the session and the least since March. The two-year U.S. Treasury yield was down less than a basis point at 0.1508 percent. The yield on the one-month bill was at 0.0025 percent, the lowest since May when it touched 0 percent for the first time since March 2020.