In Asian Equity Markets the Nikkei index fell to a 1-1/2 month low in choppy trade on Thursday morning as a political scandal centering on the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sapped domestic investor sentiment. The Nikkei was down 0.4 percent at 18,973.75 in mid-morning trade, its lowest intraday level since Feb. 9, after opening a tad higher. The broader Topix fell 0.1 percent to 1,528.36 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.1 percent to 13,666.82. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan advanced 0.2 percent. China’s CSI 300 gained 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.1 percent.
In Currency Markets the dollar edged up from four-month lows against the yen on Thursday, but gains were capped by U.S. President Donald Trump’s struggle to push through a healthcare bill. The dollar was up 0.15 percent at 111.350 yen, enjoying a bit of respite after sliding to a four-month low of 110.735 on Wednesday, when it fell for the seventh straight session. The euro was little changed at $1.0792 after advancing to a seven-week high of $1.0825 overnight. The pound was effectively flat at $1.2482 and in reach of a one-month high of $1.2507 scaled on Wednesday. The Australian dollar was down 0.3 percent at $0.7657 and the New Zealand dollar was steady at $0.7041.
In Commodities Markets oil prices recovered on Thursday from losses chalked up the session before, but the market remained under pressure as bloated U.S. crude inventories and rising output dampen OPEC-led efforts to curb global production. Brent crude futures were at $51.02 per barrel, up 0.8 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 0.8 percent, at $48.42 a barrel, after testing support at $47 overnight. The Energy Information Administration said U.S. inventories climbed almost 5 million barrels to a record 533.1 million last week, far outpacing forecasts of a 2.8 million-barrel build. Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,245.80 per ounce.
In US Equity Markets stocks ended mixed after a choppy session on Wednesday as investors focused on President Donald Trump’s struggle to push through a healthcare bill and snapped up stocks after a steep decline the day before. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.03 percent to end at 20,661.3 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.19 percent to 2,348.45. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.48 percent to 5,821.64. The Dow was weighed down by a 7.05-percent fall in Nike after the world’s largest footwear maker missed quarterly revenue estimates. Snap Inc jumped 9 percent. The owner of messaging app Snapchat received a second analyst “buy” rating following a red-hot public listing this month.
In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury yields fell on Wednesday as investors reduced expectations that the Federal Reserve is likely to adopt a faster path in raising interest rates and any new fiscal stimulus is seen as unlikely in the near-term. Benchmark 10-year notes gained 11/32 in price to yield 2.40 percent, down from 2.43 percent on Tuesday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is due to speak at a community development conference on Thursday.
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