In Asian Equity Markets Japanese stocks fell from near 1-1/2-year highs on Friday as the market took a breather from its rally since mid-April, while trading was also influenced by a mixed bag of earnings with Nissan Motor rising on a surprise dividend hike. The Nikkei index ticked down 0.7 percent to 19,823.28 as some investors booked profits. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan erased early modest gains and turned down 0.3 percent, shy of nearly two-year highs probed in the previous session but still up 1.6 percent for the week. Australian stocks skidded 0.9 percent, while the Shanghai Composite index added 0.4 percent as the Chinese central bank’s move to inject funds amid liquidity worries offered some solace.
In Currency Markets the dollar traded below an eight-week high against the yen on Friday, with the near-term focus on whether coming U.S. economic data would provide the catalyst for further gains in the greenback. The dollar eased 0.1 percent to 113.70 yen having retreated from its eight-week high of 114.38 yen on May 10. The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.0870. Sterling was steady on the day at $1.2886 after falling to a one-week low on Thursday following the Bank of England’s decision to keep interest rates unchanged. The New Zealand dollar eased 0.2 percent to $0.6838, staying on the defensive after tumbling 1.3 percent on Thursday.
In Commodities Markets crude held gain in Asia on Friday ahead of U.S. rig count data with the market in a holding pattern ahead of a May 25 meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC nations in Vienna widely expected to extend a pact to curb oil output. On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for June delivery rose 0.13 percent to $47.89 a barrel, while Brent edged up 0.08 percent to $50.81 a barrel. Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,226.71 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were also up 0.2 percent at $1,226.60 an ounce. Among other precious metals, silver rose 0.6 percent to $16.39. Platinum edged up 0.1 percent to $915.25, while palladium rose 0.3 percent to $803.70.
In US Equity Markets stocks fell on Thursday after worse-than-expected sales declines at Macy’s and Kohl’s sparked a selloff in shares of department stores and stirred fears that consumers are not spending enough to drive strong economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11 percent to end at 20,919.42 points and the S&P 500 lost or 0.22 percent to 2,394.44. The Nasdaq Composite 0.22 percent to 6,115.96. Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors declined. Straight Path fell 20.41 percent after it agreed to be taken over by Verizon in a $3.1 billion deal, snubbing a rival offer from AT&T. Merck rose 0.77 percent after the U.S. FDA cleared its lung cancer combination treatment.
In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices edged up on Friday as a slide in Tokyo stocks provided the bond market some breathing room after several days of losses. June 10-year JGB futures rose 0.10 point to 150.68, on track to end five straight days of losses. The 20-year JGB yield fell half a basis point to 0.600 percent, pulled back from a one-month high of 0.610 percent touched on Thursday.
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