In Asian Equity Markets Japan’s Nikkei index fell to a 1-1/2-week low on Tuesday morning as financial stocks were battered after U.S. yields fell, while index-heavyweight SoftBank tumbled and weighed on the index. The Nikkei fell 0.5 percent to 19,432.71 in midmorning trade after a public holiday on Monday. The broader Topix lost 0.2 percent to 1,563.28 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.2 percent to 13,986.79. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 0.4 percent to 15-month highs, with tech-heavy Seoul and Taipei stocks hitting two-year highs while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng scaled 1 1/2-year highs.
In Currency Markets the dollar was on the defensive in Asian trading on Tuesday, after Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans reinforced the perception that the U.S. central bank won’t accelerate the pace of its interest rate hikes. The dollar was down 0.1 percent to 112.48 yen after falling as low as 112.44, its deepest trough since Feb. 28. The euro was steady on the day at $1.0741 but remained shy of last week’s $1.0782. Sterling edged up 0.1 percent to $1.2370, but remained well shy of its Monday high of $1.2436, its loftiest peak since Feb. 28, after Prime Minister Theresa May said she will trigger Britain’s separation proceedings with the European Union on March 29, launching two years of Brexit negotiations.
In Commodities Markets oil prices rose on Tuesday on expectations that an OPEC-led production cut to prop up the market could be extended, while strong demand would also work to slowly erode a global fuel supply overhang. Prices for front-month Brent crude futures were at $51.86 per barrel, up 0.5 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 0.3 percent, at $48.35 a barrel. Spot gold edged down 0.5 percent at $1,227.50 per ounce. Spot silver fell 0.7 percent to $17.30. Platinum fell 0.7 percent to $961.90, while palladium was down 0.2 percent at $778.05. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell 0.9 percent to $5,829 a tonne, erasing a 0.9-percent gain from the previous session.
In US Equity Markets stocks fell on Monday as investors worried that President Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched down 0.04 percent to end at 20,905.86 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.20 percent to 2,373.47. The Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.01 percent to finish at 5,901.53. Apple rose 1.05 percent to a record-high close of $141.46 after Cowen & Co upgraded its price target on the stock. Caterpillar rose 2.68 percent after it reported a smaller decline in sales for the 3 months through February versus the period ending in January. Walt Disney rose 0.85 percent after the company’s “Beauty and the Beast” topped box-office sales.
In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices edged higher on Tuesday, lifted by a regular debt-purchasing operation by the Bank of Japan and overnight gains by U.S. Treasuries. The benchmark 10-year yield and the 30-year yield were both half a basis point lower at 0.065 percent and 0.830 percent, respectively. The BOJ on Tuesday bought a total of 1.15 trillion yen ($10.2 billion) of JGBs ranging from the short-end to the super-long maturities as part of its regular debt-buying scheme.
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