In Asian Equity Markets Japan’s Nikkei index rose on Thursday, benefitting from a weaker yen after the dollar gained when U.S. jobs data cemented expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve is poised to raise interest rates next week. The Nikkei was up 0.15 percent at 19,283.10 at midday. The broader Topix edged up 0.1 percent to 1,552.45, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 also rose 0.1 percent to 13,886.33. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan fell 0.9 percent. Australia’s main index eased 0.4 percent, while its resource sector fell more than 2 percent. The Shanghai composite edged down 0.70 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.96 percent.
In Currency Markets the dollar stood tall on higher U.S. Treasury yields on Thursday, after a rise in U.S. private-sector jobs in February cemented expectations the Federal Reserve will raise rates next week. The dollar was last up 0.1 percent at 114.41 yen. The greenback was helped by widening U.S.-Japan interest rate differentials. It had risen as high as 114.75 yen on Wednesday, not far from a two-week high of 114.955 touched on Feb. 15. The euro last stood at $1.0537, wallowing near a one-week low of $1.0533. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, was last up 0.1 percent at 102.13.
In Commodities Markets oil prices climbed on Thursday after sharp losses the session before, buoyed by strong compliance with touted international production cuts, although a rise in U.S. crude inventories continued to drag. International Brent crude futures were up 0.87 percent, at $53.57 per barrel. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 0.68 percent, to $50.62 a barrel. WTI plummeted 5.38 percent to $50.28 per barrel in the previous session, marking its lowest since December. Spot gold was barely changed at $1,207.38 per ounce. In other precious metals, silver fell 0.4 percent, to $17.17 per ounce. Platinum was up 0.4 percent to $948.80 per ounce, while palladium eased 0.7 percent to $763.47.
In US Equity Markets the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Averagefell on Wednesday as energy stocks suffered their worst decline in nearly six months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.33 percent, to 20,855.59, the S&P 500 lost 0.23 percent, to 2,362.98 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.06 percent, to 5,837.55. Caterpillar fell 2.8 percent after the New York Times said it reviewed a report commissioned by the U.S. government that accused the heavy equipment maker of carrying out tax and accounting fraud. H&R Block shares rose nearly 15 percent for their best day in over eight years, after the tax preparation company posted its quarterly results.
In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices fell on Thursday, weighed down by a slide in U.S. Treasuries and subdued response to a five-year debt auction. The benchmark 10-year JGB yield rose 2 basis points to 0.090 percent, its highest since Feb. 22. Treasury yields jumped on Wednesday, with the two-year yield hitting its highest levels in more than 7-1/2 years, as a strong gain in U.S. private-sector jobs in February cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates next week.