Surprisingly strong retail sales helped the Dow Jones Industrial to rise for the ninth straight session in a stock rally not seen since 1996. The new record high posted for DOW is 14 455. Also Nasdaq edged higher to 3 245. Trading volume was light with investors consolidating positions after a strong run up in the three first months of the year. Sign of strength in the economy and the Federal Reserve’s (FED) monetary easing have accelerated the advance of US equities, but many investors are asking whether we are in for a technical correction. The retail sales report helped underscore the impression that the economy is gaining momentum.
Asian shares fell for the second day in row with regional factors outweighing the positive sentiments from another Wall Street record close. The MSCI-index for Asia-Pacific was down 0,6%. Australia plunged 1% in spite of positive employment numbers. The Australian dollar reacted positive to the employment news and hit a five-week high. The Japanese Nikkei bucked the negative trend and added 0,4%. Net inflows in Japanese mutual funds reached USD 11 billion in February. A domestic stock rally for the last four months have increased investor’s appetite for Japanese stocks.
Monetary policy direction remains diverse in Asia as countries also watch development in Chinese economy and North Korea closely. Japan wants powerful monetary easing to get out of a vicious deflation spiral harming its economy for two decades. Other central bankers are fearful of inflation. South Korea has been holding the interest rate steady at 2,75% for the last half year.
The Australian dollar jumped to USD 1,0383 after employment soared by 71 000 in February. JPY continues to gain strengthen against USD trading at 96,03 down from its 96,71 peak on Tuesday. Euro/JPY has also retreated from its record high on Tuesday. The brighter forecast for the US economy has negatively affected the Euro trading down to 1,2947. The yield on Italian short and long term bonds increased during yesterday’s auction, the first after the rating agency Fitch downgraded Italy’s credit rating in February. Investor’s attention will today turn to the Spanish bond auction.
Oil prices, gold and silver have dropped since yesterday. NYMEX crude trades at USD 92,28 a barrel. Brent crude is down to 108,40. Gold trades at USD 1586 an ounce.
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