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Mexico stocks lower at close of trade; S&P/BMV IPC down 0.67%

Investing.com – Mexico stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Telecoms Services, Consumer Staples and Materials sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Mexico, the S&P/BMV IPC declined 0.67%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/BMV IPC were Banregio Grupo Financiero SAB De CV (MX:GFREGIOO), which rose 1.72% or 2.00 points to trade at 118.40 at the close. Meanwhile, Gentera SAB de CV (MX:GENTERA) added 1.44% or 0.230 points to end at 16.250 and Grupo Elektra , S.A.B. De C.V. (MX:ELEKTRA) was up 1.42% or 8.76 points to 624.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Coca Cola Femsa SAB De CV (MX:KOFL), which fell 5.10% or 7.00 points to trade at 130.14 at the close. Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico SAB De CV Class B (MX:GAPB) declined 3.12% or 5.99 points to end at 185.78 and Grupo Televisa SAB Unit (MX:TLVACPO) was down 2.84% or 1.96 points to 67.14.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Mexico Stock Exchange by 150 to 137 and 9 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.17% or 2.20 to $1330.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.29% or 0.81 to hit $63.58 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.42% or 0.94 to trade at $67.33 a barrel.

USD/MXN was down 0.23% to 18.5601, while EUR/MXN fell 0.61% to 22.8055.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.17% at 89.81.

Top 5 Things That Moved Markets This Past Week

Investing.com – Top 5 things that rocked U.S. markets this week.

1. US Equity Markets on Path to Test ‘Powell Put’

A few turns higher in volatility as measured by the so-called fear index VIX triggered short-lived panic selling but similar to last week traders were prepared to buy the dips.

That helped the benchmark US equity markets score a second weekly win – the first time since Jan. 26 – suggesting that the recent selloff was a correction and not the start of a prolonged bear market as some had initially feared.

Falling bond yields were also said to have supported sentiment on equities this week as 10-year yields eased from a four-year highs. But others, warned, however, that with bond yields within touching distance of 3% equities could be set for a tough slog higher.

CNBC reported, citing a note from Thomas Lee, founder and head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, that 10-year yields at 3% “intersects a trendline that has led to crashes or bear markets since 1980.” The key difference now, however, was that interest rates are coming off record lows and “like 1950s to 1960s, this period saw higher rates [and] higher equity prices."

The Dow Jones bagged 347 points on Friday en route to a two-week winning streak.

2. WTI Crude Added To Last Week’s Gains

Crude oil prices settled higher this week after US crude supplies unexpectedly fell for the first time in four weeks while Libyan oil production also lifted sentiment.

The fall in crude supplies was made all the more surprising as traders were expecting weaker refinery activity – which usually lowers demand for crude – would add to supplies. Some said, however, that the draw in crude supplies came amid added incentive to sell rather than store crude as current prices traded at a premium to forward prices – a market structure known as backwardation.

Rising US output, meanwhile, showed little sign of abating as Baker Hughes reported Friday the number of US oil rigs rose for the fifth-straight week. The rise in oil rigs came a few days after the EIA reported crude production remained close to record levels at 10.27 million barrels a day.

On Friday U.S. crude futures rose 78 cents to settle at $63.55 a barrel.

3. Political Uncertainty Left Euro Nursing Weekly Loss

EUR/USD ended the week nursing losses amid political uncertainty in the Eurozone as traders fretted the outcome of the upcoming Italian election less than two weeks.

Mizuho bank said safe haven demand grew Thursday, leading to an uptick in Treasuries and Bunds, as Italian election polls indicated the Five Star Movement is in the lead and a hung parliament potentially looms.

GBP/USD also suffered a weekly loss after Q4 UK GDP was revised lower, reflecting a sluggish economy at a time when Brexit related uncertainty is muddying consumer and business confidence.

4. Gold Prices Struggled Amid Dollar Delight

A rising dollar pressured gold prices to a weekly loss as the Fed’s minutes and monetary policy report released this week did little to jeopardize investor expectations of a March rate hike.

The Fed’s monetary policy report suggested the central bank – under the new leadership of Jerome Powell – remained content with its gradual approach to rate hikes. Fed chair Jerome Powell is expected to testify before Congress next week Feb. 27.

Bank of Montreal (BMO) said it doesn’t expect any material change in the official tone from the Federal Reserve as the best near-term outcome for Powell is policy continuity until there is “clear evidence” that inflation is overheating or the real economy is stumbling.

5. Bitcoin: Where Art Thou, Hodlers?

Bitcoin came under remained as the latest wave of selling saw traders ditch the “hodl” – the stock market equivalent term of ‘buy and hold.’

This week saw the return of central bankers jawboning on the need to curb bitcoin activity with Bank of England governor Mark Carney telling Reuters that bitcoin has “pretty much failed” as a currency. He further added that it was not a store of value because it is “all over the map.”

While there wasn’t a clear reason for the latest selloff in the land of cryptos, some said bitcoin’s rise close to $12,000 was met with technical resistance – trading levels that trigger selling.

Whether bitcoin’s latest plunge was on regulatory fears or technical resistance doesn’t really matter as traders responded in the same way: slashing their bullish bets on crypto. This was evident by the steep fund outflows close to levels last seen at the depths of the previous ‘bloodbath,’ when bitcoin fell to $6,000.

The total cryptocurrency market cap fell to about $446 billion, at the time of writing, down 13% from this week’s high of roughly $510 billion.

Bitcoin’s total losses over the last seven days was roughly 1% on the bitfinex exchange.

Peru stocks higher at close of trade; S&P Lima General up 0.38%

Investing.com – Peru stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Mining, Banking&Financials and Food&Beverages sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Lima, the S&P Lima General rose 0.38%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P Lima General were Backus Johnsto (LM:BKJi), which rose 4.66% or 0.890 points to trade at 20.000 at the close. Meanwhile, Atacocha (LM:ATB) added 4.54% or 0.030 points to end at 0.690 and Southern Copper Corp (LM:SPC) was up 2.67% or 1.35 points to 52.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Sociedad Minera el Brocal SAA (LM:BRO), which fell 14.75% or 1.800 points to trade at 10.400 at the close. Compania Minera Milpo SAA Class I (LM:MILi) declined 4.35% or 0.150 points to end at 3.300 and Grana Y Monter (LM:GRA) was down 3.33% or 0.060 points to 1.740.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Lima Stock Exchange by 18 to 9 and 11 ended unchanged.

Shares in Backus Johnsto (LM:BKJi) rose to all time highs; up 4.66% or 0.890 to 20.000. Shares in Southern Copper Corp (LM:SPC) rose to all time highs; rising 2.67% or 1.35 to 52.00.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.24% or 0.78 to $63.55 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.36% or 0.90 to hit $67.29 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.14% or 1.90 to trade at $1330.80 a troy ounce.

USD/PEN was up 0.04% to 3.2492, while EUR/PEN fell 0.29% to 3.9964.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.16% at 89.80.

U.S. stocks higher at close of trade; Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.39%

Investing.com – U.S. stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Utilities, Oil&Gas and Technology sectors led shares higher.

At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.39%, while the S&P 500 index gained 1.60%, and the NASDAQ Composite index added 1.77%.

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), which rose 4.21% or 1.93 points to trade at 47.73 at the close. Meanwhile, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) added 2.54% or 2.33 points to end at 94.06 and Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CSCO) was up 2.47% or 1.06 points to 44.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), which fell 0.32% or 0.43 points to trade at 133.15 at the close. General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) declined 0.07% or 0.01 points to end at 14.49 and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT) was up 0.13% or 0.12 points to 92.89.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE:HPE) which rose 10.54% to 18.14, Nordstrom Inc (NYSE:JWN) which was up 6.54% to settle at 53.56 and Advance Auto Parts Inc (NYSE:AAP) which gained 5.28% to close at 116.32.

The worst performers were General Mills Inc (NYSE:GIS) which was down 3.59% to 52.98 in late trade, Scana Corporation (NYSE:SCG) which lost 1.60% to settle at 39.29 and Envision Healthcare Corp (NYSE:EVHC) which was down 1.25% to 37.19 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were NII Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:NIHD) which rose 71.95% to 1.030, Vicor Corporation (NASDAQ:VICR) which was up 37.23% to settle at 25.80 and Adamis Pharma (NASDAQ:ADMP) which gained 31.37% to close at 3.35.

The worst performers were Wecast Network Inc (NASDAQ:SSC) which was down 39.29% to 1.700 in late trade, Tenax Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:TENX) which lost 25.74% to settle at 0.249 and Data I/O Corporation (NASDAQ:DAIO) which was down 24.66% to 8.310 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 2505 to 584 and 108 ended unchanged; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1845 rose and 697 declined, while 113 ended unchanged.

Shares in Nordstrom Inc (NYSE:JWN) rose to 52-week highs; rising 6.54% or 3.29 to 53.56. Shares in Vicor Corporation (NASDAQ:VICR) rose to 5-year highs; gaining 37.23% or 7.00 to 25.80. Shares in Tenax Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:TENX) fell to all time lows; falling 25.74% or 0.086 to 0.249.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was down 11.91% to 16.49.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.12% or 1.60 to $1331.10 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.21% or 0.76 to hit $63.53 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.36% or 0.90 to trade at $67.29 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.21% to 1.2304, while USD/JPY rose 0.04% to 106.79.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.17% at 89.81.

CFTC: Speculators Less Bullish on S&P 500, Crude Oil, Sterling, Canadian Dollar

Investing.com - The Commodity Futures Trading Commission released its weekly Commitments of Traders report for the week ending February 20 on Friday.


Speculative positioning in the CME and ICE currency, commodity, energy and index futures:

LongShort
NetPriorChangeGrossChangeGrossChange
EUR126.1k127.3k-1.2k229.3k-1.5k103.1k-0.3k
GBP7.8k14.9k-7.1k58.0k-6.2k50.2k0.9k
JPY-108.3k-115.5k7.2k45.6k3.3k154.0k-3.8k
CHF-15.8k-19.9k4.1k17.1k-0.7k32.9k-4.8k
CAD23.1k32.5k-9.4k49.4k-13.2k26.2k-3.8k
AUD11.9k9.1k2.8k47.2k-2.0k35.3k-4.8k
NZD0.9k2.2k-1.3k29.4k0.8k28.5k2.1k
MXN94.8k96.8k-2.0k127.1k4.3k32.2k6.3k
S&P 500113.3k57.2k56.1k567.1k0.0k453.8k-56.1k
Gold190.9k175.6k15.3k257.2k5.3k66.3k-10.0k
Silver5.3k8.7k-3.4k63.2k-1.6k57.9k1.8k
Copper47.3k44.7k2.6k113.2k0.5k65.9k-2.1k
RUB17.4k17.8k-0.4k17.6k-0.8k0.1k-0.4k
Crude Oil689.4k712.3k-22.9k804.1k-33.3k114.8k-10.4k


Colombia stocks higher at close of trade; COLCAP up 0.46%

Investing.com – Colombia stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Industrials, Financials and Agriculture sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Colombia, the COLCAP added 0.46%.

The best performers of the session on the COLCAP were Ecopetrol SA (CN:ECO), which rose 3.64% or 90.0 points to trade at 2565.0 at the close. Meanwhile, Interconnection Electric SA ESP (CN:ISA) added 1.03% or 140.0 points to end at 13740.0 and Cemargos (CN:CCB) was up 0.94% or 100.0 points to 10780.0 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Grupoaval (CN:GAA), which fell 1.92% or 25.0 points to trade at 1275.0 at the close. Etb (CN:ETB) declined 1.57% or 7.0 points to end at 439.0 and Bolsa De Valores De Colombia (CN:BVC) was down 1.53% or 0.4 points to 25.8.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Colombia Stock Exchange by 1 to 0.

Shares in Etb (CN:ETB) fell to 52-week lows; losing 1.57% or 7.0 to 439.0.

US coffee C for May delivery was down 0.12% or 0.15 to $120.97 . Elsewhere in commodities trading, US cocoa for delivery in May rose 2.82% or 60.50 to hit $2203.00 , while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.06% or 0.80 to trade at $1331.90 a troy ounce.

USD/COP was down 0.52% to 2844.00, while BRL/COP fell 0.18% to 878.08.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.12% at 89.77.

Crude Oil Prices Sidestep Rising Oil Rigs To Notch Second Straight Weekly Win

Investing.com – Crude oil prices settled higher as a drop in Libyan production and upbeat comments from Saudi's oil chief offset data showing the number of US oil rigs increased for the fifth-straight week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for March delivery rose 78 cents to settle at $63.55 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent gained 92 cents to trade at $67.31 a barrel.

The number of oil rigs operating in the US jumped by one to 799, the highest level since April 2, 2015, according to data from energy services firm Baker Hughes, pointing to further expansion in US output.

Offsetting that, however, was an earlier report of a dip in Libyan production as the country’s El Feel oilfield shutdown, which produces 70,000 barrels per day of crude.

Also helping WTI crude to a second-straight weekly gain were upbeat comments from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih who said it was clear oil markets are rebalancing, and added that he expects inventories to continue to decline in 2018.

Al-Falih’s comments come in the wake of steady US production, threatening to derail major oil producers efforts to reduce global oil supplies to OPEC’s five year average. The oil cartel together with Russia agreed in December to extend the 1.8 million bpd output cuts through 2018, to rid the market of excess supplies.

The Energy Information Administration’s weekly inventory totals showed US crude production remained close to its highest level in nearly half a decade at 10.27 million barrels. This keeps the US on track to meet the EIA’s recent estimate for domestic production to top 11 million barrels per day by year-end.

Gold Prices Set For Weekly Loss Despite US Bond Yield U-Turn

Investing.com – Gold prices were on track to post a weekly loss Friday amid dollar strength despite the Federal Reserve expressing its desire to continue its gradual approach to rate hikes.

Gold futures for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell by $2.10, or 0.16%, to $1,330.70 a troy ounce.

The Federal Reserve in its monetary policy report said the pace of wage gains was moderate, weighed by low productivity. The monetary policy report was released ahead of Fed chair Jerome Powell’s testimony to Congress on Feb. 27 to allow members of Congress and the public time to review the report.

“The economic expansion continues to be supported by steady job gains, rising household wealth, favorable consumer sentiment, strong economic growth abroad, and accommodative financial conditions,” the report said.

Losses in the yellow metal were limited somewhat by an ongoing fall in US bond yields – which move in the opposite direction to Treasury prices – from four-year highs, which some said could be the start of a long overdue correction to the recent fall in Treasury prices.

Gold is sensitive to moves lower in bond yields which limits the opportunity cost of holding non-interest yielding assets such as bullion.

The CFTC Commitment of Traders (COT) report due later is expected to provide traders with an insight into whether sentiment on the yellow metal has improved after the report last week showed bullish bets on gold fell for the fourth-straight week.

In other precious metal trade, silver futures fell 0.58% to $16.49 a troy ounce, while platinum futures fell 0.14% to $998 an ounce.

Copper rose 1.03% to $3.21, while natural gas fell 1.40% to $2.60.

Dollar Pares Gains as Fed Says Gradual Rate Hikes Appropriate

Investing.com – The dollar traded roughly flat against a basket of major currencies as the Federal Reserve‘s said gradual rate hikes remained appropriate.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, rose 0.10% to 89.75

The Federal Reserve in its monetary policy report said the pace of wage gains was moderate, weighed by low productivity. The central bank also said a serious labour shortage would probably push up wages but did express some concern over high equity valuations.

“The economic expansion continues to be supported by steady job gains, rising household wealth, favorable consumer sentiment, strong economic growth abroad, and accommodative financial conditions,” the report said.

While the policy report did little to suggest a faster pace of rate hikes would be adopted by the central bank it added to narrative of an improving economy, reaffirming investor expectations for the Fed to raise rates next month. The monetary policy report comes ahead of Fed chair Jerome Powell’s testimony to Congress next week.

Also supporting the uptick in the greenback was euro weakness amid investor concerns over the outcome of the Italian election less than two weeks away.

Mizuho bank said the safe haven bid that started Thursday continued to support Treasuries and Bunds, as Italian election polls indicated the Five Star Movement is in the lead and a hung parliament looms.

EUR/USD fell 0.24% to $1.23.

Limiting the advance in the dollar, however, was a rise in the loonie after inflation topped economists’ forecasts.

Canadian inflationary pressures are “heating up,” CIBC said. While Friday's inflation readings were somewhat stronger than expected, the bank said it would maintain its forecast for the Bank of Canada to remain patient in terms of rate hikes amid potential economic headwinds, including NAFTA renegotiations, US tax cuts and new mortgage rules.

GBP/USD rose 0.19% to $1.3981, recovering from a sharp fall in the European morning session amid a reported “fat finger” sell order.

USD/JPY fell 0.14% to Y106.61.

Denmark stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Copenhagen 20 up 0.84%

Investing.com – Denmark stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Real Estate, Consumer Services and Oil&Gas sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Copenhagen, the OMX Copenhagen 20 gained 0.84%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Copenhagen 20 were Genmab (CO:GEN), which rose 3.42% or 41.0 points to trade at 1241.0 at the close. Meanwhile, AP Moeller - Maersk A/S B (CO:MAERSKb) added 1.68% or 166 points to end at 10040 and AP Moeller - Maersk A/S A (CO:MAERSKa) was up 1.59% or 150 points to 9600 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were ISS A/S (CO:ISS), which fell 3.06% or 7.20 points to trade at 228.20 at the close. Lundbeck A/S (CO:LUN) declined 1.24% or 4.0 points to end at 319.1 and Chr. Hansen Holding A/S (CO:CHRH) was down 0.59% or 3.0 points to 509.0.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange by 78 to 46 and 14 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.35% or 0.85 to $63.62 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.17% or 0.78 to hit $67.17 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.14% or 1.80 to trade at $1330.90 a troy ounce.

USD/DKK was up 0.23% to 6.0540, while EUR/DKK fell 0.02% to 7.4459.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.12% at 89.77.

Finland stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Helsinki 25 up 0.14%

Investing.com – Finland stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Oil&Gas, Telecoms and Utilities sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Helsinki, the OMX Helsinki 25 gained 0.14%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Helsinki 25 were Neste Oil Oyj (HE:NESTE), which rose 3.49% or 2.08 points to trade at 61.76 at the close. Meanwhile, Outotec Oyj (HE:OTE1V) added 2.53% or 0.204 points to end at 8.268 and Elisa Oyj (HE:ELISA) was up 1.70% or 0.60 points to 35.89 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Huhtamaki Oyj (HE:HUH1V), which fell 2.07% or 0.74 points to trade at 34.99 at the close. Stora Enso Oyj R (HE:STERV) declined 1.18% or 0.170 points to end at 14.260 and Metsa Board Oyj B (HE:METSB) was down 0.83% or 0.060 points to 7.195.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Helsinki Stock Exchange by 77 to 66 and 14 ended unchanged.

Shares in Neste Oil Oyj (HE:NESTE) rose to all time highs; rising 3.49% or 2.08 to 61.76. Shares in Outotec Oyj (HE:OTE1V) rose to 3-years highs; up 2.53% or 0.204 to 8.268.

Brent oil for April delivery was up 1.11% or 0.74 to $67.13 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.26% or 0.79 to hit $63.56 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.14% or 1.80 to trade at $1330.90 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was down 0.25% to 1.2299, while EUR/GBP fell 0.41% to 0.8802.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.12% at 89.77.

Spain stocks lower at close of trade; IBEX 35 down 0.55%

Investing.com – Spain stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Consumer Goods, Consumer Services and Financial Services&Real Estate sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Madrid, the IBEX 35 lost 0.55%.

The best performers of the session on the IBEX 35 were Cellnex Telecom SA (MC:CLNX), which rose 4.48% or 0.91 points to trade at 21.24 at the close. Meanwhile, Merlin Properties SA (MC:MRL) added 2.50% or 0.28 points to end at 11.49 and Distribuidora Intl de Aliment (MC:DIDA) was up 2.32% or 0.093 points to 4.103 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Inditex (MC:ITX), which fell 7.06% or 1.900 points to trade at 25.000 at the close. International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (MC:ICAG) declined 5.19% or 0.366 points to end at 6.686 and B. Sabadell (MC:SABE) was down 3.64% or 0.066 points to 1.745.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Madrid Stock Exchange by 92 to 75 and 30 ended unchanged.

Shares in Inditex (MC:ITX) fell to 3-years lows; falling 7.06% or 1.900 to 25.000.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.13% or 1.70 to $1331.00 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.34% or 0.84 to hit $63.61 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.17% or 0.78 to trade at $67.17 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.24% to 1.2301, while EUR/GBP fell 0.41% to 0.8802.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.11% at 89.76.

Germany stocks higher at close of trade; DAX up 0.18%

Investing.com – Germany stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Telecoms, Utilities and Consumer&Cyclical sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Frankfurt, the DAX added 0.18%, while the MDAX index added 0.10%, and the TecDAX index added 0.75%.

The best performers of the session on the DAX were E.ON SE NA (DE:EONGn), which rose 3.78% or 0.316 points to trade at 8.684 at the close. Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom AG Na (DE:DTEGn) added 3.28% or 0.425 points to end at 13.395 and Henkel&Co KGaA AG Pref (DE:HNKG_p) was up 2.39% or 2.60 points to 111.50 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DE:LHAG), which fell 2.13% or 0.590 points to trade at 27.130 at the close. Continental AG O.N. (DE:CONG) declined 1.52% or 3.50 points to end at 226.80 and Commerzbank AG O.N. (DE:CBKG) was down 1.46% or 0.190 points to 12.854.

The top performers on the MDAX were Steinhoff International Holdings NV (DE:SNHG) which rose 9.27% to 0.37, Tag Immobilien AG (DE:TEGG) which was up 3.84% to settle at 15.700 and Innogy SE (DE:IGY) which gained 3.55% to close at 32.400.

The worst performers were Stroeer SE (DE:SAXG) which was down 7.55% to 56.950 in late trade, Gerresheimer AG (BS:GXId) which lost 2.37% to settle at 60.900 and Aurubis AG (DE:NAFG) which was down 2.33% to 68.700 at the close.

The top performers on the TecDAX were RIB Software AG Na (DE:RIB) which rose 12.67% to 27.560, Aixtron SE (DE:AIXGn) which was up 8.71% to settle at 14.845 and GFT Technologies AG (DE:GFTG) which gained 3.79% to close at 13.700.

The worst performers were Medigene NA O.N. (DE:MDG1k) which was down 2.44% to 18.000 in late trade, Wirecard AG (DE:WDIG) which lost 1.65% to settle at 98.740 and CompuGroup Medical AG O.N. (DE:COPMa) which was down 1.58% to 46.240 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by 385 to 332 and 86 ended unchanged.

Shares in Gerresheimer AG (BS:GXId) fell to 52-week lows; losing 2.37% or 1.475 to 60.900. Shares in Aixtron SE (DE:AIXGn) rose to 5-year highs; gaining 8.71% or 1.190 to 14.845.

The DAX volatility index, which measures the implied volatility of DAX options, was down 2.56% to 18.78.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.17% or 2.20 to $1330.50 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.35% or 0.85 to hit $63.62 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.17% or 0.78 to trade at $67.17 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.25% to 1.2299, while EUR/GBP fell 0.43% to 0.8800.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.13% at 89.78.

Nigeria stocks higher at close of trade; NSE 30 up 0.81%

Investing.com – Nigeria stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Food, Beverages&Tobacco, Banking and Oil&Gas sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Lagos, the NSE 30 added 0.81%.

The best performers of the session on the NSE 30 were Nig Brew (LAGOS:NB), which rose 5.78% or 7.10 points to trade at 130.00 at the close. Meanwhile, Union Bank LG (LAGOS:UBN) added 2.19% or 0.15 points to end at 6.95 and Diamond Bank (LAGOS:DIAMONB) was up 2.00% or 0.050 points to 2.550 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Guiness Nig (LAGOS:GUINNES), which fell 4.72% or 4.95 points to trade at 99.95 at the close. Nestle Nig (LAGOS:NESTLE) declined 0.23% or 3.10 points to end at 1374.90 and Total Nig (LAGOS:TOTAL) was 0.00% or 0.00 points to 228.00.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Lagos by 42 to 35 and 21 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.34% or 0.84 to $63.61 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.17% or 0.78 to hit $67.17 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.15% or 2.00 to trade at $1330.70 a troy ounce.

EUR/NGN was up 0.16% to 443.640, while USD/NGN unchanged 0.00% to 360.000.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.13% at 89.78.

Sweden stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Stockholm 30 up 0.20%

Investing.com – Sweden stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Technology, Basic Materials and Telecoms sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Stockholm, the OMX Stockholm 30 added 0.20%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Stockholm 30 were Svenska Cellulosa SCA AB B (ST:SCAb), which rose 3.55% or 2.9 points to trade at 83.4 at the close. Meanwhile, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Class B (ST:ERICb) added 2.67% or 1.46 points to end at 56.06 and Skanska AB ser. B (ST:SKAb) was up 1.77% or 2.90 points to 166.85 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Fingerprint Cards AB ser. B (ST:FINGb), which fell 2.95% or 0.31 points to trade at 10.06 at the close. Volvo, AB ser. B (ST:VOLVb) declined 1.33% or 2.13 points to end at 157.72 and Sandvik AB (ST:SAND) was down 0.66% or 1.00 points to 151.35.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Stockholm Stock Exchange by 324 to 281 and 53 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.29% or 0.81 to $63.58 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.13% or 0.75 to hit $67.14 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.14% or 1.80 to trade at $1330.90 a troy ounce.

EUR/SEK was up 0.33% to 10.0388, while USD/SEK rose 0.54% to 8.1588.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.10% at 89.75.

Russia stocks higher at close of trade; MOEX Russia up 0.71%

Investing.com – Russia stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Oil&Gas, Mining and Manufacturing sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Moscow, the MOEX Russia added 0.71% to hit a new all time high.

The best performers of the session on the MOEX Russia were Magnit (MCX:MGNT), which rose 7.24% or 347.0 points to trade at 5140.0 at the close. Meanwhile, VTB (MCX:VTBR) added 5.83% or 0.0029 points to end at 0.0517 and Tatneft-3 (MCX:TATN) was up 2.25% or 13.20 points to 599.50 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were MegaFon OAO (MCX:MFON), which fell 1.93% or 10.90 points to trade at 553.00 at the close. Polymetal International PLC (MCX:POLY) declined 1.58% or 9.80 points to end at 609.30 and Yandex NV (MCX:YNDX) was down 1.54% or 38.00 points to 2435.50.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Moscow Stock Exchange by 0 to 0.

Shares in Tatneft-3 (MCX:TATN) rose to all time highs; up 2.25% or 13.20 to 599.50.

The Russian VIX, which measures the implied volatility of MOEX Russia options, was down 0.53% to 22.340.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.12% or 1.60 to $1331.10 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.35% or 0.85 to hit $63.62 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.30% or 0.86 to trade at $67.25 a barrel.

USD/RUB was unchanged 0.00% to 56.5174, while EUR/RUB unchanged 0.00% to 69.6354.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.10% at 89.75.

Greece stocks lower at close of trade; Athens General Composite down 0.10%

Investing.com – Greece stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Retail, Healthcare and Telecoms sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Athens, the Athens General Composite lost 0.10%.

The best performers of the session on the Athens General Composite were Revoil Petrol (AT:REVr), which rose 10.00% or 0.060 points to trade at 0.660 at the close. Meanwhile, Ellaktor SA (AT:HELr) added 4.58% or 0.082 points to end at 1.872 and Lamda Develop (AT:LMDr) was up 3.07% or 0.220 points to 7.390 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Folli Follie (AT:HDFr), which fell 2.80% or 0.50 points to trade at 17.38 at the close. Marfin Invest (AT:MRFr) declined 2.39% or 0.004 points to end at 0.147 and Eurobank Ergasias SA (AT:EURBr) was down 2.17% or 0.0180 points to 0.8120.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Athens Stock Exchange by 60 to 55 and 14 ended unchanged.

Shares in Lamda Develop (AT:LMDr) rose to 5-year highs; rising 3.07% or 0.220 to 7.390.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.20% or 2.70 to $1330.00 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.81% or 0.51 to hit $63.28 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.80% or 0.53 to trade at $66.92 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.31% to 1.2292, while EUR/GBP fell 0.46% to 0.8797.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.19% at 89.83.

Turkey stocks higher at close of trade; BIST 100 up 0.58%

Investing.com – Turkey stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Transport, Basic Metals and Tourism sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Istanbul, the BIST 100 gained 0.58%.

The best performers of the session on the BIST 100 were Trabzonspor Sportif Yatirim ve Futbol Isletmeciligi Ticaret AS (IS:TSPOR), which rose 5.14% or 0.110 points to trade at 2.250 at the close. Meanwhile, ODAS Elektrik Uretim Sanayi Ticaret AS (IS:ODAS) added 4.12% or 0.290 points to end at 7.330 and Anadolu Cam Sanayi AS (IS:ANACM) was up 3.59% or 0.110 points to 3.170 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Tesco Kipa Kitle Pazarlama Ticaret Lojistik ve Gida Sanayi AS (IS:KIPA), which fell 3.87% or 0.180 points to trade at 4.470 at the close. Alkim Alkali Kimya AS (IS:ALKIM) declined 2.33% or 0.58 points to end at 24.36 and Global Yatirim Holding AS (IS:GLYHO) was down 1.68% or 0.070 points to 4.100.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Istanbul Stock Exchange by 195 to 153 and 59 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.22% or 2.90 to $1329.80 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.64% or 0.40 to hit $63.17 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.68% or 0.45 to trade at $66.84 a barrel.

USD/TRY was up 0.19% to 3.7899, while EUR/TRY fell 0.21% to 4.6586.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.22% at 89.86.

Crude Oil Prices Turn Higher on Libyan Supply Disruptions

Investing.com - Crude oil prices turned higher on Friday, supported by news of supply disruptions in Libya offset lingering worries over U.S. production levels.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude April contract was up 15 cents or about 0.27% at $62.92 a barrel by 10:05 a.m. ET (14:05 GMT), just off a more than two-week high of $63.09 hit on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Brent oil for April delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London rose 14 cents or about 0.24% to $66.56 a barrel, after hitting a more than two-week peak of $66.56 on Thursday.

Oil prices were boosted on news the El Feel oilfield in Libya producing 70,000 bpd was shut down, due to unrest.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday that crude oil inventories fell by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 16, compared to expectations for a gain of around 1.8 million barrels.

The report came a day after the American Petroleum Institute reported a supply-drop of around 0.9 million barrels.

Both reports come out one day later than usual due to Monday's President's Day holiday.

However fears that rising U.S. output could dampen global efforts to rid the market of excess supplies have systematically limited oil prices' gains recently.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with some non-OPEC members led by Russia, agreed in December to extend oil output cuts until the end of 2018.

The deal to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels a day (bpd) was adopted last winter by OPEC, Russia and nine other global producers. The agreement was due to end in March 2018, having already been extended once.

Elsewhere, gasoline futures gained 0.45% to $1.775 a gallon, while natural gas futures lost 1.56% to $2.593 per million British thermal units.

Stocks- Wall Street Rises as Investors Look Ahead to Fed Speeches

Investing.com – Wall Street opened higher on Friday as bond yields fell and investors look ahead to speeches from Federal Reserve officials for clues on how quickly the Fed will raise rates.

The S&P 500 was up 14 points or 0.55% to 2,718.93 as of 9:48 AM ET (14:48 GMT) while the Dow composite increased 157 points or 0.63% to 25,120.39, and tech heavy NASDAQ Composite rose over 43 points or 0.61% to 7,253.81.

Stocks were under pressure earlier this week after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed the central bank expected to continue increasing rates.

The yield on the U.S. Treasury 10-year note rose to a four-year high following the minutes. The yield eased down on Friday to 2.892%.

Investors will be watching for further clues when New York Fed President William Dudley, Cleveland Fed's Loretta Meister and San Francisco Fed President John Williams speak later in the day.

Markets were bolstered by rising technology and services stocks. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose 1.13% while Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) increased 1.11% while Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) surged 2.17%. Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) recovered 1.77% after falling over 6% on Thursday while Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE:HPE) was up 9.81% after posting higher than expected earnings.

Meanwhile, General Mills (NYSE:GIS) was down 4.09% after it announced it was buying natural pet food company Blue Buffalo for $8 billion while Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED) fell 12.43%.

In Europe stocks were mostly up. In Germany the DAX rose 31 points or 0.625 while France’s CAC 40 increased five points or 0.10% and in London the FTSE 100 gained 207 points or 0.93%. Meanwhile Spain’s IBEX 35 was down 70 points or 0.71% and the pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 inched up one point or 0.03%.

In commodities, gold futures fell 0.26% to $1,329.20 a troy ounce while crude oil futures rose 0.24% to $62.92 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.25% to 89.88.

Bitcoin Rises Despite Regulation Concerns

Investing.com - Bitcoin eased from earlier losses on Friday to trade at over $10,000 despite regulators taking an increased concern in cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin was trading at $10,237, up 3.26% as of 9:01 AM ET (14:01 GMT) on the Bitfinex exchange after hitting an overnight low of $9,583.

Cryptocurrencies have rebounded in recent days after struggling to gain ground amid regulation concern. Bitcoin has rallied from its two month low of $6,000 on February 6. Still, the price is 20% lower for the year to date and far below its high of $20,000 in December.

Regulators have taken an increased interest in the digital currencies. On Thursday New York Fed President William Dudley described cryptocurrencies as “dangerous” and that there was a “speculative mania” about them. U.S. regulators are investigating the Bitfinex exchange over its links to digital coin Tether, amid fears that it is being used to artificially inflate bitcoin prices.

Meanwhile in Germany, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) was planning a “case-by-case examination” of ICO tokens, while France’s Autorite des Marches Financiers, the country’s top financial watchdog, has announced all cash-settled cryptocurrency contracts are subject to the country’s strict derivatives laws as well as an advertising ban.

The UK Treasury Committee is also launching an inquiry into cryptocurrencies to investigate whether the technology behind Bitcoin poses a risk to central banking.

Other cryptocurrencies were trading higher, with rival Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, rising 9.17% to $869.72 on the Bitfinex exchange.

The third largest cryptocurrency, Ripple, was up 8.43%% to trade at $0.96050 and Litecoin was last at $208.44, an increase of 9.11%.

Dollar Trims Gains But Remains Supported

Investing.com - The U.S. dollar trimmed gains against other major currencies on Friday, but expectations for several U.S. rate hikes this year continued to support demand for the greenback.

The greenback remained broadly supported after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's January policy meeting showed that central bank officials see increased economic growth and rising inflation as justification to continue to raise interest rates gradually.

The dollar had been pressured lower recently by expectations for a faster pace of monetary tightening outside the U.S., which would lessen the divergence between the Fed and other central banks.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.18% at 89.82 by 08:13 a.m. ET (12:13 GMT), just off a one-and-a-half week high of 90.17 hit on Thursday.

The euro remained lower, with EUR/USD down 0.26% at 1.2298, while GBP/USD added 0.23% to 1.3986.

Official data earlier showed that euro zone consumer price inflation rose 1.3% year-over-year in January, in line with expectations.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices slipped 0.9% last month, also in line with expectations.

Elsewhere, the yen was steady, with USD/JPY at 106.74, while USD/CHF gained 0.31% to 0.9355.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were lower, with AUD/USD down 0.28% at 0.7823 and with NZD/USD declining 0.69% to 0.7291.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD was almost unchanged at 1.2696.

Stocks- U.S. Futures Rise as Investors Shake Off Inflation Concerns

Investing.com – U.S. Futures pointed to a slightly higher opening bell on Friday, as investors shake off concern about increased interest rates.

The S&P 500 futures rose seven points or 0.26% to 2,718.50 as of 6:40 AM ET (11:40 GMT) while Dow futures increased 99 points or 0.40% to 25,120.0. Meanwhile tech heavy Nasdaq 100 futures was up 22 points or 0.33% to 6,811.0.

Worry over increased interest rates rose earlier in the week after hawkish minutes from the Federal Reserve showed members saw an uptick in inflation. A recent batch of stronger-than-expected U.S. inflation data has bolstered bets that the Fed could increase interest rates as many as four times this year, more than the three it currently forecasts.

Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc (NASDAQ:HMNY) was among the biggest gainers in pre-market trading, rising 2.85% after the company announced it was increasing its ownership of MoviePass. IT firm Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE:HPE) surged 9.99% after an upbeat earnings release, while education publisher Pearson (LON:PSON) PLC ADR (NYSE:PSO) increased 2.87% after it posted higher than expected earnings.

Elsewhere Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) was down 0.06% after sinking 6.1% on Thursday when Kylie Jenner tweeted that she no longer uses the social media app. Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) B PLC (NYSE:RDSb) fell 0.17% while Micro Focus International PLC ADR (NYSE:MFGP) slipped 1.24%.

In earnings news, the Royal Bank Of Canada (NYSE:RY) and Cinemark Holdings Inc (NYSE:CNK) all release their results, while Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) will release an update on Saturday.

In Europe stocks were mixed. Germany’s DAX rose four points or 0.03% while in France the CAC 40 decreased five points or 0.11% and in London, the FTSE 100 was down nine points or 0.04%. Meanwhile the pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 lost six points or 0.20% while Spain’s IBEX 35 slumped 83 points or 0.85%.

In commodities, gold futures were down 0.08% to $1,331.60 a troy ounce while crude oil futures fell 0.51% to $62.45 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was rose 0.21% to 89.85.

Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Friday

Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Friday, February 23:

1. Global Stocks Mixed As Traders Digest Fed Minutes

Global stocks partially recovered from losses posted after minutes of the Federal Reserve's January meeting underlined expectations for faster U.S. interest rate hikes, souring appetite for riskier assets around the world.

Asian markets ended broadly higher, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Japan's Nikkei 225 up 0.93% and 0.62% respectively, while China's Shanghai blue-chip index advanced 0.63%.

In Europe, stocks were notably lower in late morning trade. The Stoxx Europe 600 index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, rose 0.3%.

Meanwhile, early indications from U.S. futures suggested a higher open for Wall Street. Dow futures were up about 57 points, or around 0.2%, while S&P 500 futures gained 2 points, or about 0.9%. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 10 points, or roughly 0.1%.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, with the Dow signing its fourth consecutive session in the red.

2. Dollar, Treasury Yields Retreat But Remain Supported

The U.S. dollar premained within close distance of a one-and-a-half-week high hit in the previous session against a basket of major currencies, boosted by speculation the Fed will raise interest rates at a faster pace than currently expected.

The dollar index, which gauges the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.13% at 89.78 by 05:45 a.m. ET (09:45 GMT), just off Thursday's one-and-a-half week high of 90.17.

Meanwhile, yields on the 10-year bond were last trading at 2.899%, just off Wednesday's four-year peak of 2.957% and not far from 3% - a huge psychological milestone for bulls and bears alike.

St Louis Fed President James Bullard tried to lessen expectations for four U.S. rate hikes in 2018, instead of the widely anticipated three. He said on Thursday that policymakers need to be careful not to increase rates too quickly because that could slow the economy.

3. Oil Prices Mixed After Upbeat EIA Weekly Supply Report

Oil prices initially strengthened after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday that crude oil inventories fell by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 16, compared to expectations for a gain of around 1.8 million barrels.

The report came a day after the American Petroleum Institute reported a supply-drop of around 0.9 million barrels.

Both reports come out one day later than usual due to Monday's President's Day holiday.

The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude April contract slid 6 cents or about 0.57% to $62.41 a barrel by 06:00 a.m. ET (10:00 GMT), just off a more than two-week high of $63.09 hit on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Brent oil for April delivery on the ICE Futures Exchange in London retreated 45 cents or about 0.68% to $65.94 a barrel, after hitting a more than two-week peak of $66.56 on Thursday.

4. Bitcoin Hovers Around $10,000-Level

The prices of major cryptocurrencies were mixed although Bitcoin remained in the red for a third consecutive day.

The price of the world's biggest virtual currency by market cap, (Bitcoin) lost around 2% to $10,034, after hitting an overnight low of $9,583. After nearly doubling in price since the Feb. 6 low close to $6,000, traders have begun dumping some of their holdings, market participants said.

Other major digital currencies were mixed, with Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, gaining around 4% to $858.72, off a one-week low of $787.00 hit overnight.

The third largest cryptocurrency Ripple advanced around 0.5% to trade at $0.94511. It has declined more than 60% so far this year, making it one of the worst performing digital currencies of 2018.

5. Final Euro Zone Inflation Data

Official data earlier showed that euro zone consumer price inflation rose 1.3% year-over-year in January, in line with expectations.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices slipped 0.9% last month, also in line with expectations.

The euro was lower against the U.S. dollar following the news, with EUR/USD down 0.15% at 1.2311.

Bitcoin Struggles to Stay Over $10,000

Investing.com - Bitcoin rallied over $10,000 on Friday, as it eased forward from earlier losses.

Bitcoin was trading at $10,074 as of 5:29 AM ET (10:29 GMT) on the Bitfinex exchange after hitting an overnight low of $9,583.

Regulation worries weighed down on cryptocurrencies, which had rebounded in recent days. Bitcoin has rallied from its two month low of $6,000 on February 6. Still, the price is 20% lower for the year to date.

European governments are preparing to a set of regulatory measures on digital currencies, which could continue to put pressure on cryptocurrencies. Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) was planning a “case-by-case examination” of ICO tokens, while France’s Autorite des Marches Financiers, the country’s top financial watchdog, has announced all cash-settled cryptocurrency contracts are subject to the country’s strict derivatives laws as well as an advertising ban.

Meanwhile, the UK Treasury Committee is launching an inquiry into cryptocurrencies to investigate whether the technology behind Bitcoin poses a risk to central banking.

Other cryptocurrencies were trading higher, with rival Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, rising 4.81% % to $954.61 on the Bitfinex exchange.

The third largest cryptocurrency, Ripple, was up 0.25% to trade at $0.94739on the Poloniex exchange. Litecoin was last at $206.21, a fall of 1.27%.

Dollar Index Continues to Rise on U.S. Optimism

Investing.com - The U.S. dollar continued to rise against other major currencies on Friday, after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting and Thursday's upbeat data boosted optimism over the strength of the U.S. economy.

The greenback was boosted after the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday that initial jobless claims fell by 7,000 to 222,000 last week, compared to expectations for jobless claims to total 230,000.

The data came a day after the minutes of the Fed's January policy meeting showed that central bank officials see increased economic growth and rising inflation as justification to continue to raise interest rates gradually.

The dollar had been pressured lower recently by expectations for a faster pace of monetary tightening outside the U.S., which would lessen the divergence between the Fed and other central banks.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.13% at 89.78 by 05:00 a.m. ET (09:00 GMT), just off a one-and-a-half week high of 90.17 hit on Thursday.

The euro was lower, with EUR/USD down 0.15% at 1.2310, while GBP/USD added 0.16% to 1.3974.

Official data earlier showed that euro zone consumer price inflation rose 1.3% year-over-year in January, in line with expectations.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices slipped 0.9% last month, also in line with expectations.

Elsewhere, the yen and the Swiss franc were weaker, with USD/JPY rising 0.12% to 106.88 and with USD/CHF edging up 0.16% to 0.9339.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were lower, with AUD/USD down 0.28% at 0.7823 and with NZD/USD declining 0.52% to 0.7303.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD held steady at 1.2711.

Japan stocks higher at close of trade; Nikkei 225 up 0.62%

Investing.com – Japan stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Marine Transport, Insurance and Automobiles&Parts sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.62%.

The best performers of the session on the Nikkei 225 were Tokuyama Corp. (T:4043), which rose 7.53% or 230.0 points to trade at 3285.0 at the close. Meanwhile, The Kansai Electric Power Co. (T:9503) added 4.95% or 62.5 points to end at 1324.5 and Pacific Metals Co., Ltd. (T:5541) was up 4.55% or 145.0 points to 3335.0 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Ube Industries, Ltd. (T:4208), which fell 6.37% or 215.0 points to trade at 3160.0 at the close. Kao Corp. (T:4452) declined 2.45% or 194.0 points to end at 7730.0 and Yokogawa Electric Corp. (T:6841) was down 1.63% or 36.0 points to 2175.0.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 2465 to 943 and 159 ended unchanged.

The Nikkei Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, was up 8.93% to 25.01.

Crude oil for April delivery was down 0.05% or 0.03 to $62.74 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 0.02% or 0.01 to hit $66.38 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.29% or 3.90 to trade at $1328.80 a troy ounce.

USD/JPY was up 0.30% to 107.07, while EUR/JPY fell 0.03% to 131.58.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.30% at 89.93.

Taiwan stocks higher at close of trade; Taiwan Weighted up 1.24%

Investing.com – Taiwan stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Paper&Pulp, Glass and Oil, Gas&Electricity sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Taiwan, the Taiwan Weighted rose 1.24%.

The best performers of the session on the Taiwan Weighted were Favite Inc (TW:3535), which rose 10.00% or 1.25 points to trade at 13.75 at the close. Meanwhile, Hai Kwang Enterprise Corp (TW:2038) added 9.96% or 1.25 points to end at 13.80 and Weikeng Industrial Co Ltd (TW:3033) was up 9.95% or 2.05 points to 22.65 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Century Iron And Steel Industrial Co Ltd (TW:9958), which fell 9.89% or 6.20 points to trade at 56.50 at the close. VIA Technologies Inc (TW:2388) declined 9.47% or 1.95 points to end at 18.65 and Lung Hwa Electronics Co Ltd (TW:2424) was down 9.17% or 3.10 points to 30.70.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Taiwan Stock Exchange by 649 to 171 and 96 ended unchanged.

Shares in Hai Kwang Enterprise Corp (TW:2038) rose to 5-year highs; gaining 9.96% or 1.25 to 13.80. Shares in Weikeng Industrial Co Ltd (TW:3033) rose to 52-week highs; up 9.95% or 2.05 to 22.65.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 0.05% or 0.03 to $62.80 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 0.03% or 0.02 to hit $66.37 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.25% or 3.30 to trade at $1329.40 a troy ounce.

USD/TWD was down 0.10% to 29.265, while TWD/CNY fell 0.32% to 0.2169.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.22% at 89.86.

Cryptocurrencies In Red As Bitcoin Plummets Below $10,000 Mark

Investing.com – Cryptocurrencies continued yesterday’s downward slide and traded in the red on Friday, with Bitcoin plunged below the $10,000 mark after rallied to close to $12,000 last week.

Bitcoin was trading at $9,757.1 by 1:15pm ET on the Bitfinex exchange, plunged 9.65% over the previous 24 hours.

Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, was down 4.34% at $824.62 on the Bitfinex exchange.

Ripple’s XRP token dived 9.32% to $0.89708 on the Poloniex exchange.

Meanwhile, Litecoin also plunged 12.78% to $190.21.

Governments in Europe were reporedly preparing a set of regulatory measures on crypto this week. German’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) was planning a “case-by-case examination” of ICO tokens, while France’s Autorite des Marches Financiers, the country’s top financial watchdog, has announced all cash-settled cryptocurrency contracts are subject to the country’s strict derivatives laws as well as an advertising ban.

It was reported yesterday that the UK Treasury Committee was launching an inquiry into cryptocurrencies to investigate whether the technology behind Bitcoin poses a risk to central banking.

Elsewhere, The Korea Accounting Institute said yesterday that it was considering whether to classify cryptocurrencies into liquid assets or non-current assets in financial statements.

Oil Prices Climb In Asia Morning Amid Sudden Drop In U.S. Crude Stockpiles

Investing.com - Oil prices were up Friday morning in Asia, boosted by an unexpected decline in U.S. crude inventories.

Crude Oil WTI Futures for April delivery were trading at $62.88 a barrel in Asia by 11:50am ET, up 0.18%. Brent crude Futures for April delivery, traded in London, were up 0.30% at $66.45 per barrel.

U.S. crude inventories had been forecast to rise 1.8 million barrels. But as net imports fell to a record low while exports surged, crude stockpiles saw an unexpected decline by 1.6 million barrels last week. Inventories dropped further at the key storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The drop at Cushing was because prompt crude prices were higher than forward prices, discouraging storage as it makes more sense to liquidate on-hand inventories.

Meanwhile, U.S. crude exports jumped to more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd), close to the record 2.1 million bpd in October. Production increase is steady, and the U.S. is set to overtake Russia in crude oil output by late 2018, making it the largest global supplier.

The largest privately owned crude terminal in the U.S., the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), recently completed the first very large crude carrier (VLCC) crude oil loading operation. The super carriers can ship around 2 million barrels of oil.

This timely development comes as demand for oil continues to surge in Asia, especially China.

A drop in the U.S. currency from an eight-day peak also supported oil prices, as dollar-denominated oil is now cheaper for other countries to import.

Strengthened by healthy demand growth in Asia, oil prices are slowly inching closer to the highs of the beginning of February. WTI started February at $65.80 and Brent started at $69.65