In Asian Equity Markets stocks in Australia advanced in Wednesday morning trade as most major Asian markets remained closed for holidays. The ASX 200 gained 0.71% as the heavily weighted financial subindex Down Under added about 1.5%. Shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four banks rose; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 3.18%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 1.26%, Westpac added 2.14% and National Australia Bank advanced 2.05%.

 

In Currency Markets sterling rose above $1.30, hitting a two-week high, on Tuesday after media reports that the tone of Brexit talks between the British government and the main opposition party had improved. Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a consensus with Labour to get a Brexit deal approved and wants talks to reach a conclusion by the middle of next week, several British journalists reported on Tuesday. The pound was on track for its biggest daily gain in over a month versus the dollar, rising 0.8 percent to $1.3047 and 0.6 percent to 85.91 pence against the euro.

 

In Commodities Markets oil prices dipped on Wednesday after a report showed a rise in available U.S. crude inventories, but the market remained tense amid an intensifying political crisis in Venezuela, tightening U.S. sanctions on Iran and continuing OPEC supply cuts. Spot Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $71.65 per barrel, down 41 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 51 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $63.49 per barrel.

 

In US Equity Markets the S&P 500 eked out another record high close on Tuesday and capped its best four-month stretch in nearly nine years after a recent rally that helped to restore investors’ belief in the decade-long bull run. The S&P communication services sector slid 2.5%, dragged down by Alphabet, and registered its biggest percentage decline in about four months. The S&P 500 gained 0.10%, to 2,945.83, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.66%, to 8,095.39. Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co Inc rose more than 2% each after the drugmakers beat quarterly earnings estimates.

 

In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury prices gained on Tuesday after weak regional manufacturing data raised some concerns about the economy and as month-end repositioning boosted demand for the debt. The Treasury Department will announce its refunding plans for the coming quarter on Wednesday. It said on Monday it plans to borrow much less in the second quarter than it previously expected. Treasury said it will borrow $30 billion during the April-June period, less than half its previous estimate.

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