Asian markets saw some profit taking today. Investors in Japan were reluctant after the release of the latest Fed minutes. Chinese stocks and Hong Kong stocks were mostly down, property developers performed well. The Dow rose again, but number of decliners was up. The dollar continues sideways after Fed minutes were released. European stocks struggle after reaching recent highs. Oil prices are up as traders are weighing a potential draw down of global stocks.

Asian Markets Mostly Lower

- Japanese Nikkei 225 virtually flat at 19,371 points, broader TOPIX also flat at 1,556 points; yen strengthened vs the dollar after release of latest minutes from Fed meeting, indicating that a rate hike may occur fairly soon, but investors views the statements as rather cautious; financials were under pressure, with Nomura and Mitsubishi UFJ losing some ground; shares of Yamato Holdings rose seven percent after a report from Nikkei newspaper that said that the transport company might negotiate higher shipping prices as it is lacking drivers; shares of Toshiba saw some profit taking after yesterday’s rebound; Toho Zinc, Mitsui Mining and Sumitomo Metal Mining declined; Leading Economic Index für December was up 1.8 to 104.8 points

- Chinese stocks declined, Shanghai Shenzhen Composite lost 0.3 percent to 3,251 points, CSI 300 Index down 0.5 percent to 3,473 points; Credit Suisse yesterday said it was bullish on Chinese steel, cement and iron ore stocks, today analysts at JPMorgan released a different view saying that valuations were too high, naming Angang Steel and Maanshan Iron, saying downside is seen at 26 percent and 31 percent respectively, Anhui Conch Cement’s downside is seen at 11 percent

- Hang Seng Index declines on profit taking, losing 0.4 percent to 24,114 points; Hang Seng China Enterprises Index shed 0.2 percent to 10,521 points; investor took some profit after recent gains, HSBC closed up 0.4 percent, however, as it saw declines in the past trading days, shares of Standard Chartered were down 1.3 percent; Tencent lost 0.1 percent, China Mobile down 1.2 percent and Lenovo Group lost 1.2 percent; property stocks led gainers after core earnings are seen rising; New World Development up 3.3 percent, Sino Land up 1.7 percent, Hang Lung Properties rose 1.2 percent

- Korean shares rose, the KOSPI gained 0.1 percent to 2,107 points, market was supported by foreign buying, institutional investors sold stocks; shares of utility KEPCO rose 0.4 percent, Samsung Electronics were down 0.3 percent, the company is expected to hold a shareholder meeting on March 24 sources said, the meeting is supposed to address the response of the arrest of its Vice Chairman; shares of Hyundai Motors lost 2.3 percent

- miners pulled ASX 200 down, the leading index lost 0.4 percent to 5,784 points; banking stocks lost, shares of airline Quantas rose more than five percent, reaching a ten-month high after results beat guidance; casino operator Crown Resorts were at highest in four months after rising almost eight percent on a 75 percent increase in first-half profit; miners traded ex-dividend, BHP Billiton were down 2.7 percent, Rio Tinto shed 5.5 percent and Fortescue Metals down 2.6 percent; oil stocks also declined

Another Day, Another Record High in DJIA

- Dow gained 0.2 percent to 20,775 points yesterday, NASDAQ declined 0.1 percent to 5,860 points and S&P 500 down 0.1 percent at 2,362 points

- Dow marked its ninth record close in a row, longest winning streak since thirty years; gains were led by DuPont, Nike, 3M, IBM and Verizon; number of losers rose vs previous days, shares of Intel, Chevron, ExxonMobil and General Electric declined

- Investors were looking at latest Fed minutes that showed a rate hike might by appropriate “fairly soon” this week other Fed members also said that a rate hike in the near futures was appropriate but it remained unclear if this means an increase in Fed next meeting in March; the dollar was only a tad higher after the release, the Dollar Index now is at 101.30 dollars

- latest data on existing home sales showed a 3.3 percent MoM increase in January, leading to annualized existing home sales of 5.69 million

- today’s economic calendar included Chicago Fed National Activity Index, initial jobless claims, Housing Price Index and Kansas Fed Manufacturing Activity Index

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is expected to hold a speech

- Tesla Inc released its fourth quarter report, saying it lost $121.3 million, narrowing its loss vs the year-earlier quarter; sales up 88 percent to $2.28 billion; CEO Musk said cash was at $3.39 billion at the end of Q4 but another capital increase might be appropriate to reduce risk; on track to meet production start plans of highly anticipated Model 3

European Stocks Mixed, DAX Fails at 12k

- Euro Stoxx 50 flat at 3,340 points, FTSE 100 down 0.1 percent at 7,295 points, Fench CAC 40 up 0.1 percent at 4,900 points, German DAX flat at 11,997 points and Italy’s FTSE MIB slightly lower at 18,875 points

- DAX briefly climbed above 12k mark, but struggles to hold ground; shares of Daimler, Infineon, Volkswagen and Deutsche Börse rise, RWE, Allianz lower

- in London stocks of Intu Properties rise 5.9 percent, RSA Insurance Group up 4.4 percent, Barclays 3.4 percent higher; Centrica down 3.0 percent, Antofagasta lose 1.5 percent, Informa down 1.2 percent

- German GDP rose 1.7 percent YoY in Q4, in line with expectations; GfK Consumer Confidence Survey showed slight decline from 10.2 to 10.0 points

- French Business Climate Index up 1.0 to 107.0 points; Italian retail sales declined 0.2 percent YoY in December

- ProSiebenSat.1 reported 2016 EBITDA of 1.02 billion euros, up ten percent YoY, sales rose 17 percent 3.8 billion euros, led by growth in web site businesses Verivox and Etraveli

Oil and Gold higher

- oil prices rise as API reported an unexpected decline in U.S. crude stocks last week; WTI up 1.4 percent at $54.36/bbl, Brent rises 1.4 percent to $56.64/bbl; API said crude stocks were down 884k barrels vs. expectations of a 3.5 million barrel rise

- base metals continue to see profit taking on higher dollar; LME copper down 1.0 percent at $5,972/metric ton, aluminum down 1.2 percent at $1,867/metric ton; traders view Chinese preparations for a property tax as potentially dampening demand for base metals, China also wants to increase oversight of asset management industry

- spot gold flat at $1,237.89/oz after Fed minutes; traders looking for clues of U.S. economic policies for direction; potential rate hike in March still seen a possibility but uncertainties remain after Fed minutes

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