In Asian Equity Markets Japanese stocks retreated on Thursday morning as a pause in the weakening of the yen gave investors an excuse to book profits, though financials extended their outperformance on rising U.S. yields. The Nikkei index fell 0.7 percent to 19,310.02 in midmorning trade after scaling near six-week highs earlier this week. The broader Topix fell 0.5 percent to 1,546.43 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 0.5 percent to 13,871.98. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 0.2 percent to its highest since July 2015. Hong Kong stocks climbed to a fresh five-month high and swelling demand from mainland investors thanks to Beijing’s drive to tackle growing asset price bubbles and the market’s relatively cheap valuations.

In Currency Markets the dollar pulled back on Thursday after rising to one-month highs in the wake of upbeat U.S. economic data, with demand for the greenback cooling as Treasury yields came off their peaks. The dollar also came off from a 2-1/2-week high of 114.95 marked on Wednesday against the yen, touching a low of 113.73. It was last down 0.3 percent at 113.84 yen. The euro edged up 0.15 percent at $1.0614. The Australian dollar last traded at $0.7709 after touching $0.7732, its highest since Nov. 10. Sterling last stood at $1.2460 edging up from a one-week trough of $1.2384 touched on Wednesday, knocked by slowing wage growth in the fourth quarter – bad news for British consumers facing a rise in inflation in the months ahead.

In Commodities Markets oil prices held steady on Thursday, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by producer group OPEC, although rising fuel inventories and crude production in the United States weighed on sentiment. Brent crude futures were trading at $55.73 per barrel, down just 2 cents from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures, were down 4 cents at $53.07 per barrel. Crude inventories rose 9.5 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 10, nearly three times more than analysts’ expectations. Spot gold had ticked up 0.2 percent, to $1,235.01 per ounce. Spot silver edged up 0.1 percent, to $18 per ounce, while platinum also inched up 0.3 percent, to $1,012.80. Palladium was mostly unchanged at $789.90 per ounce

In US Equity Markets stocks rose on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 notching a seven-session winning streak, helped by a round of robust economic data and ongoing optimism that President Donald Trump will cut corporate taxes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.52 percent to end at 20,611.86. The S&P 500 gained 0.50 percent to 2,349.25 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.64 percent to 5,819.44. The healthcare index was the top gainer, up 1.17 percent. Shares of Southwest, United Continental, American Airlines and Delta rose between 2 percent and 4 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported investments topping $2.1 billion in each of the carriers.

In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices fell on Thursday as a subdued liquidity-enhancing auction dented investor sentiment, with the market also continuing to feel pressure from the recent retreat by U.S. Treasuries. The benchmark 10-year JGB yield rose 1 basis point to 0.095 percent and the 30-year yield climbed 1.5 basis points to 0.905 percent. The 30-year yield was within the reach of a one-year high of 0.915 percent hit earlier this month.

Economic Calendar
14:30 GMT+0 US Building Permits
14:30 GMT+0 US Philly Fed Manufacturing Index
14:30 GMT+0 US Unemployment Claims
22:45 GMT+0 NZD Retail Sales q/q

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