In Asian Equity Markets Japan’s Nikkei index fell on Friday as the yen held steady against the dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled fewer interest rate hikes than some investors had expected. The Nikkei shed 0.4 percent to 19,521.59. For the week, the benchmark index lost 0.4 percent, before Japan’s three-day weekend. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent, set to end the week with a 3.5 percent gain, its biggest increase since the week ended July 15. Chinese stocks were steady, set for a 1.6 percent increase for the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rode the positive regional trend, staying on track to log a 3.4 percent gain for the week, its biggest since September.
In Currency Markets the dollar licked its wounds in Asian trading on Friday, wallowing at five-week lows against a currency basket and on track for weekly losses after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled fewer interest rate hikes than some investors had expected. Against the yen, the dollar edged up 0.1 percent to 113.44, down 1.2 percent for the week ahead of a Tokyo public holiday on Monday. The recently resurgent euro edged up slightly to $1.0770, up 0.9 percent for a week in which Dutch centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte fended off an election challenge from anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. Sterling edged down slightly to $1.2355 after hitting a two-week high of $1.2373 overnight.
In Commodities Markets oil prices were little changed in early Asian trade on Friday as the market looked for clues on how effectively OPEC production cuts are working to absorb a global supply overhang. Brent crude was up 0.1 percent, at $51.79 per barrel, after closing the previous session down 7 cents, and was on track for a weekly gain of about 0.8 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.2 percent, at $48.85 a barrel and was also set for a small weekly rise. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,227.11 per ounce and spot silver was down 0.1 percent at $17.27 an ounce. Platinum was down 0.4 percent at $949.75, while palladium fell 0.1 percent to $763.50.
In US Equity Markets stocks fell on Thursday pressured by healthcare shares as traders cashed in gains from one of the best performing sectors so far this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.07 percent, to close at 20,934.55, the S&P 500 lost 0.16 percent, to 2,381.38 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.01 percent, to 5,900.76. Oracle rose to a record high of $46.99 before closing up 6.2 percent at $45.73, after it posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Tyson Foods lost 1.7 percent on news that a form of bird flu that is highly lethal for poultry had infected a second farm that supplies Tyson. Biogen weighed down the S&P 500, falling 4.7 percent after two brokerages downgraded the stock.
In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices were little changed on Friday as market players weighed whether the G20 financial policymakers’ meeting this weekend would change the group’s stance on currency policies and protectionism. The yield on the benchmark 10-year JGBs was flat at 0.070 percent. The price of 10-year JGB futures fell 0.05 point to 150.21. The yield on the five-year JGBs rose 0.5 basis point to minus 0.130 percent.