Japanese and Chinese stocks rose today. China was supported by reports of pension funds investing into financial markets. Hong Kong closed also higher, led by financials. Korean stocks shook off some worries, leading Samsung up more than two percent. Wall Street reached another high Friday, but shares of United Health were down six percent on lawsuit. European stocks supported, Unilever drop as Kraft Heinz walks away from takeover. Commodities mostly higher in early trading.

Japan, China rise

- Nikkei 225 Index up 0.1 percent at 19,251 points, broader TOPIX Index up 0.2 percent at 1,547 points; stocks climbed in thin trade due to closed U.S. stock markets today, market supported by slightly weaker yen; Japanese exports rose 1.3 percent YoY in January, below expectations of 4.7 percent growth; imports up 8.5 percent vs 4.7 percent rise expected; Nikkei 225 decliners were led by Mitsui Mining & Smelting, down 2.1 percent, Amada Holdings lost 2.0 percent, Rakuten down 2.0 percent, Konami Holdings down 1.6 percent; gainers were led by Pacific Metals up 5.6 percent, Bridgestone Corp up 5.4 percent, Yokohama Rubber up 4.0 percent an Softbank up 3.2 percent

- Chinese stocks showed strong performance as Shanghai Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.2 percent to 3,239 points, CSI 300 Index up 1.5 percent at 3,471 points; Chinese Vice Premier warns of increased pressure to create sufficient number of jobs this year; Chinese Central Bank wants to tighten oversight of company debt and bank assets; stocks rose after media reports that pensions funds may start coming into Chinese stock market, according to reports pension funds on Friday started investing 360 billion yuan in financial markets

- Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index up 0.5 percent at 24,144 points, Hang Seng China Enterprises Index rose 0.8 percent to 10,445 points; banking stocks were mixed today, HSBC Holdings up 1.0 percent, Hang Sang Bank down 0.2 percent, Standard Chartered lost 4.0 percent after a downgrade from JPMorgan; Chinese Banks rose; oil company Sinopec climbed 1.5 percent, PetroChina closed 1.2 percent higher; auto stocks rose again, led by Greatwall Motors which were up 6.4 percent, BYD Co up 2.5 percent, Brilliance China up 1.9 percent

- Korean stocks eked out small gains, KOSPI rose 0.2 percent to 2,084 points, foreign investors were net buyers; analysts say investors’ sentiment remains weak, making it hard to see further rises; Samsung climbed 2.1 percent, Hyundai Motor saw some profit taking, down 0.2 percent, Kia Motors down 0.4 percent, chipmaker SK Hynix down 1.0 percent

- Australian market declined, S&P ASX 200 down 0.2 percent at 5,795 points; market was led down by shares of Brambles, which lost nearly 10 percent after releasing first half numbers; shares of WorleyParsons were down 12.8 percent after reporting a $2.4 million loss in the first half; miners also declined, BHP Billiton were down 0.6 percent, Rio Tinto declined 0.2 percent but Fortescue Metals rose 1.5 percent; Santos down 1.5 percent, Woodside Petroleum declined 1.0 percent

Wall Street In The Green

- Wall Street shows some late minute trading, letting the Dow closed nearly flat at 20,624 points; NASDAQ up 0.4 percent at 5,838 points, S&P 500 0.2 percent higher at 2,351 points, leading to another record closing high; indices up one percent week-over-week

- shares of United Health tanked 6.0 percent on Friday after the DoJ joined a lawsuit that was filed by a former executive accusing the company of overcharging Medicare by hundreds of millions of dollars; whistleblower who uncovered the overcharge also sued Aetna, Humana and WellCare

- other decliners include ExxonMobil, Disney, IBM and DuPont; shares of Verizon, Boeing, HomeDepot and McDonalds rose

- markets are still being supported by hopes for the Trump administration’s economic policies, including de-regulation and tax overhaul; an analyst from Millennium Trust said he was optimistic on the market going forward
shares of Kraft Heinz Co rose 10.7 percent Friday after plans to take over London-listed Unilever, yesterday Kraft Heinz ditched its bid

- economic calendar was light Friday, CB Leading Indicator for January showed a 0.6 percent increase
markets in the U.S. are closed today due to President’s Day

European Stocks Rise In Early Trade

- Euro Stoxx 50 up 0.3 percent at 3,319 points, FTSE 100 up 0.1 percent at 7,308 points, French CAC 40 0.4 percent higher at 4,886 points, German DAX up 0.7 percent at 11,839 points and Italy’s FTSE MIB Index up 0.4 percent at 19,038 points

- in Frankfurt shares of Deutsche Telekom rise 2.9 percent, Volkswagen up 1.5 percent, Deutsche Bank up 1.2 percent; Infineon down 1.1 percent, Beiersdorf down 1.0 percent, Henkel also down as Unilever drop 6.8 percent in London after Kraft Heinz ditched its takeover bid for the company

- in London Unilever leads decliners, Pearson down 3.4 percent, Mediclinic International down 1.6 percent, Standard Chartered Down 1.4 percent; shares of Rolls-Royce up 4.9 percent, Royal Bank of Scotland up 4.5 percent, BAE Systems up 1.2 percent

- German producer prices rose 2.4 percent YoY in January, up 0.7 percent MoM

- Royal Bank of Scotland up after saying that plans to sell its Williams & Glyn business would be scrapped

- Rolls-Royce up after upgrade from “hold” to “buy” by Goldman Sachs, price target lifted from 743 pence to 1,030 pence, analysts see increased cash flow until 2020

Oil Rises, Gold Sideways

- Crude prices rise with WTI gaining 0.5 percent to $53.67/bbl, Brent crude up 0.7 percent to $56.18/bbl; Baker Hughes Friday said that number of running oil rigs rose again last week, up six to 597 rigs; Goldman Sachs said average U.S. crude output may rise 130,000 bpd this year; CFTC said net longs in crude oil were increased last week

- spot gold up 0.1 percent to $1,236.03/oz; traders awaiting slew of speeches from Fed members in the U.S. regarding monetary policies, March rate hike increasingly seen a possibility; factors dragging on gold are higher dollar and interest rates, while political uncertainty lend some support; CFTC said speculative investors reduced net longs on gold

- copper up 0.6 percent to $6,004/metric ton as investors weigh supply disruptions; Indonesia lifted export ban for Freeport-McMoRan last week, but Freeport said it could start arbitration against government as it could not deliver promised shipments; Citi said copper market might move into deficit in 2017, peaks of $7,000/metric ton by year end possible; in the U.S. net longs on copper rose slightly last week

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