Japanese stocks declined today as the yen rose vs the dollar. Shares of Toshiba continued their decline, while Chinese stocks in Hong Kong closed higher. Wall Street ended its record run but the Dow remains strong and closed in the green the sixth day in a row. European stock markets move only little as investors remain cautious not only given U.S. president Trump’s yesterday’s press conference but also political uncertainty ahead of the elections in France and the Netherlands. Commodities decline slightly.

Japan lower, China, Hong Kong Up

- Nikkei 225 Index down 0.5 percent at 19,347 points, broader TOPIX Index down 0.2 percent at 1,551 points; stronger yen again hitting stocks; financials declined as remarks from Fed Chairwoman seen as relatively dovish, however, analysts see March rate hike as a realistic possibility as inflation strengthens; shares of Toshiba Corp declined 10.5 percent after rating agency S&P Global the conglomerate’s rating could be lowered if lenders demand debt restructuring; other losers included Showa Shell Sekiyu, Mitsui Fudosan, Shiseido; brewers Sapporo Holdings and Kirin Holdings rose; Asahi Group up 3.2 percent, Trend Micro Inc jumped 9.3 percent

- Chinese stocks rose, SSE Composite up 0.5 percent at 3,229 points, CSI 300 Index up 0.6 percent at 3,440 points; Chinese yuan weakened today, despite central bank’s strengthening of reference rate fourth day in a row
Hong Kong higher with Hang Seng Index climbing 0.5 percent to 24,107 points, Hang Seng China Enterprises Index up 0.2 percent at 10,455 points; gainers include Hengan International, AIA Group up 3.4 percent, Hang Lung Properties gained 1.0 percent and Cathay Pacific up 0.7 percent; Bank of East Asia down 4.1 percent after saying 2016 profit was down 33 percent to HK$3.72 billion, hitting lowest in seven years; Lenovo lost 3.7 percent after reporting weak earnings yesterday, China Overseas Land down 2.5 percent, Bank of China down 2.0 percent

- Korean KOSPI down 0.1 percent 2,081 points; arrest of Samsung Group chief unsettled investors, shares of Samsung Electronics were down 0.4 percent; Samsung C&T, the holding company for Samsung Group, were down 2.0 percent; chipmaker SK Hynix was up 1.6 percent, steel maker POSCO gained 1.4 percent; car stocks were higher again, with Hyundai Motor up 3.4 percent, Kia Motors rose 0.7 percent

- Australian ASX 200 down 0.2 percent at 5,806 points, up 1.5 percent on week; after strong week mining stocks saw some profit taking, bringing BHP Billiton down 1.1 percent, Rio Tinto 2.1 percent lower and Fortescue Metals down 2.4 percent; gold miner Newcrest Mining continues to shine, up 1.1 percent

Wall Street Mixed, With Dow Marking Record High

- Dow up 7.9 points at 20,619 points, NASDAQ down 0.1 percent at 5,814 points, S&P 500 0.1 percent lower at 2,347 points

- shares of ExxonMobil and Chevron were down yesterday, Caterpillar and Nike also lost; gainers included Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, Intel and 3M

- Philly Fed Manufacturing Index was up 19.7 points to 43.3 points in February; initial jobless claims rose slightly to 239,000 last week, but remain at historic low; economic agenda light today

- U.S. stocks ended their record run yesterday as energy stocks were under pressure, analysts see yesterday’s weakness as normal given the recent rise in markets in the past weeks; some analysts also see a potential correction if markets start to appreciating the possibility of a March rate hike

- shares of TripAdvisor Inc were down 11.0 percent after saying hotel sales in fourth quarter were down 3.1 percent to $252 million, selling and marketing expenses climbed 18.6 percent to $172 million, however total expenses were down 8.4 percent; profit at $1.0 million, a third from a year earlier, revenue was up 2.3 percent at $316 million

DAX, FTSE Down, Allianz shine

- German DAX down 0.1 percent, London’s FTSE 100 down 0.1 percent at 7,293 points, French CAC 40 flat at 4,922 points, Italy’s FTSE MIB Index up 0.3 percent at 19,117 points

- in Frankfurt shares of Allianz are up 2.8 percent ProSiebenSat.1 up 0.3 percent, Beiersdorf up 0.1 percent; Volkswagen, Infineon, Deutsche Bank and Continental decline

- in London shares of Anglo American, Barclays and Antofagasta decline; AstraZeneca, BAE Systems and Associated British Foods rise

- shares of Allianz rise after company said it would increase its dividend to 7.60 euros per share for 2016, it also plans a share buyback of 3 billion euros; fourth quarter net profit was up 23 percent at 1.7 billion euros, revenue up 0.9 percent at 30 billion euros, operating profit at 10.8 billion euros, also expected for 2017

- latest ECB meeting shows that central bankers are willing to deviate from important rules in order to restore price stability; capital key seen flexed, possibly leading ECB to buy more bonds from indebted nations, fewer from other countries; risk of more criticism from stronger Euro zone members such as Germany seen

Gold And Oil Little Changed

- Oil prices down a notch, with WTI losing 0.2 percent to $53.28/bbl, Brent down 0.1 percent at $55.60; OPEC may discuss extension of output deal in order to rebalance markets; slower demand growth seen in China and India; analysts at AB Bernstein see global oil demand rise to more than 100 million barrels per day next year

- gold slightly down on some profit taking; dollar weakness and political uncertainty lends support; investment demand, reflected in gold holdings of SPDR Gold Trust continues to rise; sport gold at $1,238.94/oz

- base metals lower, aluminum down 1.2 percent at $1,875/metric ton, copper below $6,000 as investors take profit after strong performance in past weeks, underlying support seen intact

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