In Asian Equity Markets Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.5 percent in afternoon trade while the Topix declined 0.77 percent as shares of Fast Retailing fell by 2.61 percent. Softbank Group jumped more than 17 percent, on the back of its announcement on Wednesday that it would purchase up to 600 billion yen ($5.46 billion) of stock in its largest ever buyback. South Korea’s Kospi returned to positive territory as it advanced 0.3 percent with shares of chipmaker SK Hynix jumping more than 2 percent. Australia’s ASX 200 rose more than 1.2 percent, with almost all sectors trading higher.

 

In Currency Markets the Australian dollar languished near a two-week low on Thursday on rising bets that interest rates would most likely come down this year amid heightened growth risks at home and abroad. Australia’s central bank on Wednesday opened the door to a possible rate cut as it acknowledged growing economic risks in a remarkable shift from its long-standing tightening bias that sent the Aussie dollar sliding. The Aussie hovered near a more than one-week low at $0.7103, having lost 1.8 percent in the previous session, its largest percentage decline in more than a year.

 

In Commodities Markets oil prices fell on Thursday after U.S. crude inventories rose and as production levels in the country held at record levels, but OPEC-led supply cuts and Washington’s sanctions against Venezuela supported markets. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.84 per barrel, down 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement. International Brent crude oil futures were down by 26 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $62.43 per barrel. U.S. crude oil inventories climbed by 1.3 million barrels in the week that ended Feb. 1 to 447.21 million barrels.

 

In US Equity Markets stocks edged lower on Wednesday as videogame makers gave disappointing revenue forecasts and investors awaited developments on U.S.-China trade relations. The benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were weighed by declines in shares of Electronic Arts Inc, which fell 13.3 percent after the videogame publisher forecast full-year revenue below estimates. The sharp decline pulled down shares of rival videogame publisher Activision Blizzard Inc, which fell 10.1 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.22 percent, to 2,731.61 and the Nasdaq Composite  fell 0.36 percent, to 7,375.28.

 

In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices were little changed on Thursday, with investors wary of pushing yields, already below zero in some maturities, further down. The benchmark 10-year JGB yield nudged up half a basis point to minus 0.015 percent. The yield has moved in a range of minus 0.025 and minus 0.010 percent so far this month. The 30-year yield was unchanged at 0.595 percent , holding steady after an auction of the maturity drew ample investor demand.

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