In Asian Equity Markets stocks rallied to an 18-month peak on Friday, as investors cheered upbeat Chinese trade data and strong gains on Wall Street after U.S. President Donald Trump promised to unveil a major tax announcement to lower the burden on businesses. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan was up 0.5 percent to the highest level since July 2015, and was on track to gain 1.5 for the week. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.4 percent. The Nikkei swept to 19,378.15 in midmorning trade, its highest level since Jan. 30. For the week, the benchmark index has so far gained 2.2 percent. The broader Topix gained 2.0 percent to 1,543.73 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 2.1 percent to 13,852.10.
In Currency Markets the dollar was buoyant on Friday, rising to a 1-1/2-week high versus the yen, on comments by U.S. President Donald Trump that he would announce the most ambitious tax reform plan since the Reagan era in the next few weeks. The euro was little changed at $1.0666 after losing 0.4 percent the previous day. The dollar extended its overnight rally and rose to a nine-day high of 113.800 yen. The Australian dollar was up 0.4 percent at $0.7653 on upbeat Chinese trade data. The New Zealand dollar edged up 0.2 percent to $0.7199, stabilizing somewhat after sliding 1.1 percent the previous day as the country’s central bank extinguished hopes that a rate hike would happen sooner rather than later.
In Commodities Markets oil prices were stable early on Friday, with OPEC-led production cuts supporting the market while rising U.S. fuel inventories were weighing on crude. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were trading at $53.08 per barrel, up 8 cents from their last settlement. Brent crude futures were up 3 cents at $55.66 a barrel. Gold fell on Friday on a firmer dollar after U.S. President Donald Trump promised a major tax announcement and as economic data boosted expectations of a U.S. rate hike. Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,225.42 per ounce and spot silver fell 0.5 percent to $17.55 an ounce. Platinum lost nearly 1 percent to $1,003, while palladium declined 0.7 percent to $765.
In US Equity Markets the three main indexes rose to fresh record highs on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he would make a major tax announcement in a few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.59 percent, to 20,172.4, the S&P 500 gained 0.58 percent, to 2,307.87 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.58 percent, to 5,715.18. Shares of Viacom, Kellogg and Prudential all gained after their respective quarterly results. Coca-Cola forecast a surprise fall in full-year profit. Its shares fell 1.8 percent. Twitter lost 12.3 percent after the social network reported its slowest quarterly revenue growth since going public in 2013. Intel shares fell 2.5 percent, dragging on the Dow and the S&P, as the chipmaker held its annual analyst day.
In Bond Markets the Bank of Japan increased its buying in “superlong” bonds on Friday, helping to keep their rising yields in check for now, though its policy to control the JGB yield curve looks set to face more challenges, not least from Washington. The 20-year yield fell 1.0 basis point on the day to 0.670 percent, hitting its lowest level in more than a week and off the one-year high of 0.730 percent hit last week. The benchmark 10-year JGB yield was up 0.5 basis point at 0.085 percent, however, and other maturities were narrowly mixed.