News Story



India stocks mixed at close of trade; Nifty 50 up 0.02%

– India stocks were mixed after the close on Friday, as gains in the Metals, Auto and Real Estate sectors led shares higher while losses in the Banking, Consumer Durables and Carbon sectors led shares lower.

At the close in NSE, the Nifty 50 gained 0.02%, while the BSE Sensex 30 index declined 0.07%.

The best performers of the session on the Nifty 50 were Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (NS:IOC), which rose 5.19% or 6.80 points to trade at 137.20 at the close. Meanwhile, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (NS:HPCL) added 3.83% or 8.55 points to end at 230.95 and Yes Bank Ltd (NS:YESB) was up 2.86% or 6.15 points to 222.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (NS:KTKM), which fell 3.95% or 50.90 points to trade at 1237.90 at the close. GAIL Ltd (NS:GAIL) declined 1.57% or 5.20 points to end at 327.15 and Reliance Industries Ltd (NS:RELI) was down 1.22% or 15.20 points to 1232.35.

The top performers on the BSE Sensex 30 were Yes Bank Ltd (BO:YESB) which rose 3.23% to 221.95, Vedanta Ltd (BO:VDAN) which was up 2.86% to settle at 169.30 and Tata Motors Ltd (BO:TAMO) which gained 2.86% to close at 174.55.

The worst performers were Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (BO:KTKM) which was down 3.71% to 1241.05 in late trade, Reliance Industries Ltd (BO:RELI) which lost 1.11% to settle at 1232.60 and HDFC Bank Ltd (BO:HDBK) which was down 1.11% to 2091.65 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the India National Stock Exchange by 1108 to 484 and 61 ended unchanged; on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 1575 rose and 875 declined, while 148 ended unchanged.

The India VIX, which measures the implied volatility of Nifty 50 options, was down 3.75% to 15.4500.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.23% or 3.05 to $1324.75 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.30% or 0.17 to hit $57.13 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.27% or 0.18 to trade at $67.25 a barrel.

USD/INR was down 0.04% to 71.170, while EUR/INR rose 0.08% to 80.7095.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.03% at 96.493.

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Euro Zone Annual Inflation Confirmed at 1.4% in January

- Inflation in the euro zone slowed in January but was not as slow as first thought, data confirmed on Friday

The bloc’s statistics agency Eurostat said its consumer price index rose 1.4% in January from the same month a year earlier, down from 1.5% in December, while inflation for the month of January fell to a negative 1% from a month earlier.

Core inflation, which excludes energy, food, alcohol and tobacco prices, rose to an annual rate of 1.1% from 1.0% in the previous month.

The European Central Bank targets a headline inflation rate of close to, but just below 2%.

The bloc is expected to have another weak first-quarter after data on Thursday showed that manufacturing activity has shrank at its fastest pace in six years amid Brexit woes and worry over slowing growth in Italy and Germany.

The slowdown in the euro zone has led the European Central Bank to consider fresh stimulus measures, as the bloc continues to weaken. The ECB is expected to cut its growth forecasts in March and is discussing issuing targeted long-term refinancing operation loans to help stimulate the economy, ECB officials have said.

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German Business Confidence Falls to Near 5-Year Low in February - Ifo

- German business confidence hit its weakest level in nearly five years in February with no sign of a turnaround yet in sight, according to a closely-watched business survey released Friday.

The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of companies, declined to 98.5 this month, its lowest level since November 2014.

The reading was worse than economists’ expectations for 99.0.

The forward-looking element of the index, which measures business's expectations, fell even more sharply to its lowest level since 2012, at the depths of the euro's existential crisis.

Germany's export-driven economy, the motor of the euro zone's, has slowed sharply under the influence of the trade war between the U.S. and China, uncertainty over the U.K.’s departure from the European Union and a threats of higher tariffs on German-made vehicles from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The country’s Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, confirmed earlier Friday that gross domestic product stagnated in the fourth quarter, meaning that the economy narrowly avoided a recession after contracting in the previous three months.

Ifo's survey broadly corroborates others from IHS Markit and the ZEW think-tank this week.

Even though ZEW's measure of investor confidence improved to a five-month high, its president Achim Wambach said neither the institute nor the experts it surveyed expect a rapid recovery.

In its latest monthly report, Germany’s central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, said that recent weak readings in factory orders and a decline in business confidence suggested little hope of an immediate rebound for the euro area’s largest economy.

It predicted that the “underlying pace of the economy should remain subdued at least in the first half of the year”, although it said “there are no signs that the slowdown is becoming an outright downturn.”

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Japan stocks lower at close of trade; Nikkei 225 down 0.18%

– Japan stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Mining, Marine Transport and Shipbuilding sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.18%.

The best performers of the session on the Nikkei 225 were Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd. (T:3863), which rose 3.75% or 77.0 points to trade at 2129.0 at the close. Meanwhile, Haseko Corp (T:1808) added 1.77% or 24.00 points to end at 1379.00 and Hitachi Zosen Corp. (T:7004) was up 1.71% or 6.0 points to 357.0 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (T:9107), which fell 4.88% or 81.0 points to trade at 1580.0 at the close. Nippon Express Co., Ltd. (T:9062) declined 4.86% or 340.0 points to end at 6650.0 and Yamato Holdings Co., Ltd. (T:9064) was down 3.26% or 97.0 points to 2876.0.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 1951 to 1479 and 263 ended unchanged.

The Nikkei Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, was down 3.04% to 17.57.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 0.26% or 0.15 to $57.11 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 0.13% or 0.09 to hit $67.16 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.11% or 1.45 to trade at $1329.25 a troy ounce.

USD/JPY was up 0.04% to 110.73, while EUR/JPY rose 0.15% to 125.66.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.05% at 96.412.

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Dollar Edges Down as Markets Brace for More Weak German Data

The dollar was steady and on track for its first weekly loss in a month in early trading in Europe Friday, although it had recovered most of the ground it lost Thursday in reaction to some weak numbers from the U.S. manufacturing sector.

While the dollar's rally has run out of steam this week, neither the euro nor the British pound has been able to make significant headway against it because of their own home-grown problems: the Ifo survey of German business confidence, due at 04:00 AM ET (0900 GMT), is expected to fall to its lowest in nearly three years. Meanwhile the minutes of the European Central Bank’s last meeting, released Thursday showed a sense of urgency about preparing a new round of stimulus in the form of cheap long-term loans to banks, known as TLTROs.

Even so, many think that the ECB will choose to hold off from action at its next meeting on March 7.

"The eurozone still wobbles between solid domestic demand and increased external risks, and it remains unclear, in which direction the pendulum will eventually swing," said ING economist Carsten Brzeski in a research note.

At 03:20 AM ET (0820 GMT), the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was at 96.428. That's down around 0.5% from the high it hit earlier this week. The eurowas at $1.1347, up 0.1% from Thursday’s close in Europe, while theBritish pound was at $.13033, down 0.1%.

Sterling is in a holding pattern ahead of next week’s Brexit showdown in parliament, when MPs will again get the chance to find a course of action they can agree on. Defections by lawmakers from both of the major parties have raised the pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to find an acceptable compromise.

In Asia earlier, the Chinese yuan was steady, underpinned by reports that a memorandum aimed at stopping competitive devaluations is part of the deal that the U.S. and China are working on to resolve their trade differences. The USD/JPY pair was little changed at 110.75.

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Gold Prices Little Changed as Traders Weigh Weak U.S. Data, Trade News

- Gold prices were little changed on Friday in Asia as traders weighed the latest positive trade news and a set of weak U.S. data.

Gold Futures traded near flat at $1,328.15 per ounce by 1:20 AM ET (06:20 GMT) on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The safe-haven metal dropped nearly $20 on Thursday as the U.S. and China made progress on discussing a trade deal.

Investors remained upbeat that the two countries may soon reach an agreement on trade after Reuters reported on Thursday that they are currently outlining a deal.

The report boosted Asian equities, while safe-haven gold fell.

However, weak economic data from the U.S. limited additional declines of the precious metal.

The Philadelphia Fed said Thursday its manufacturing index fell to a reading of -4.1 in February from 17.0 last month.

The Commerce Department said core durable goods orders slowed to a rate of 0.1% in December, missing economists forecasts for a 0.2% rise.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 1.2% in January from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million units. Economists were expecting a 0.8% increase to 5.01 million homes.

Gold prices were also under pressure this week after minutes from the Fed’s January policy meeting indicated there might be a rate hike this year. Higher interest rates reduce investor interest in non-yielding bullion.

The U.S. dollar index last traded at $96.472, up 0.01%.

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Oil Prices Slip on EIA Inventory Report

- Oil prices slipped on Friday in Asia amid new production data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 3.7 million barrels to 454.5 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 15, the EIA said, versus an increase of 3.6 million barrels in the previous week.

Meanwhile, U.S. refineries ran at just 85.9% of capacity last week, the EIA added, as aggressive export cuts by Saudi Arabia continued to squeeze the supply of the heavier oils required for producing transportation fuels.

The report pushed oil prices lower. Brent Oil Futures slipped 0.7% to $67.02 by 1:00 AM ET (06:00 GMT). Crude Oil WTI Futures also traded 0.1% lower to $56.94.

In other news, the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade discussions in Washington also remained in focus. Citing sources, Bloomberg said on Friday that China is considering buying an additional $30 billion a year of U.S. products including soybeans, corn and wheat as part of the agreement that is currently being discussed by the U.S. and Chinese officials.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said it was “premature” to comment on what or how much China might buy as part of a trade deal. “I don’t want to raise expectations,” he told reporters on Thursday. “If we reach an agreement on structural reforms we can recover markets very, very quickly.”

The Bloomberg report came after Reuters said on Thursday that the two sides have begun outlining a deal over trade. Reuters said the move was the most significant step yet towards resolving the seven-months long trade spat between China and the U.S.

The trade war was cited as a major headwind for oil prices since it began in 2018, as it clouded the outlook for crude demand from the two countries, the world’s top crude consumers.

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U.S. Dollar Edges Up Despite Weak Data; Aussie Little Changed

- The U.S. dollar edged up on Friday in Asia even after a set of weak U.S. data released overnight. The Aussie Dollar was little changed after sliding to a 10-days low yesterday.

The U.S. dollar index traded 0.1% higher to 96.500 by 12:10 AM ET (05:10 GMT) despite a slew of negative U.S. economic reports pointing to signs of slowing growth in the underlying economy.

The Philadelphia Fed said Thursday its manufacturing index fell to a reading of -4.1 in February from 17.0 last month.

The Commerce Department said core durable goods orders slowed to rate of 0.1% in December, missing economists forecasts for a 0.2% rise.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 1.2% in January from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million units. Economists were expecting a 0.8% increase to 5.01 million homes.

Meanwhile, the AUD/USD pair was little changed on Friday after sliding more than 1% to a 10-day low the previous day on fears a ban on the country's coal by a Chinese port would hurt Australia's already slowing economy.

Reports that Westpac dropped a changed forecast for its Reserve Bank of Australia policy outlook were also cited as a headwind for the Aussie dollar.

The bank said it now expects two rate cuts from the RBA, the first in August 2019 to be followed with another in November 2019.

The GBP/USD pair traded 0.2% lower amid a lack of progress on Brexit talks just weeks ahead of the March 29 deadline when the U.K. is set to leave the EU.

The EUR/USD pair was unchanged at 1.1334.

The USD/JPY pair was up 0.1% at 110.75, while the USD/CNY pair also rose 0.1% at 6.7283.

Sino-U.S. trade talks remained in focus after Reuters reported on Thursday that Washington and Beijing have begun drawing up memorandums of understanding over trade.

The two sides are trying to reach a trade deal before a March 1 deadline, when additional tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. will go into effect.

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Crypto Down; Bank of Japan Looks into Central Bank Digital Currencies

– Cryptocurrencies were slightly lower in Asia on Friday after a rather bullish performance earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Japan’s central bank is looking to the implications of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for the current monetary system.

On Friday morning, Bitcoin was down 0.31% to $3,951.4 by 11:34 PM ET (4:34 GMT).

Ethereum lost 1.01% to $146.71, XRP dropped 2.83% to $0.32091, and Litecoin slid 3.05% to $49.547.

The capitalization of the crypto market hit $135 billion, compared to $120 billion a week earlier.

In Asia, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) released a report saying that it is studying the role of CBDCs, whether they could be assessable to the general public just like banknotes, or they should be limited for large-value settlements.

The BOJ said that “it is needed to assess [CBDCs’] possible impacts not only on payment efficiency but also on financial structure and the overall economy”, but stressed that it “[does] not have an immediate plan to issue digital currencies that can replace banknotes.”

The bank also noted that for token-based CBDCs, it may consider adopting blockchain technology.

The BOJ’s open attitude towards CBDCs is a shift from that of deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya, who once said central bank-issued digital currencies are unlikely to improve the existing monetary systems.

Elsewhere, Germany-based derivatives exchange Eurex, which is operated by Deutsche Boerse (DE:DB1Gn), was said to be launching futures contracts tied to digital coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple.

Deutsche Boerse has been considering digital currency futures since 2017, as its spokesperson said “we are thinking about futures, with which private investors and institutional investors can protect existing investments in Bitcoin or set for falling prices of the cyber currency."

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Asian Stocks Mixed as Wall Street Declines on Weak Data; Trade Talks in Focus

- Asian equities were mixed in morning trade on Friday after U.S. stocks closed lower following a stream of disappointing U.S. economic data.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component both edged up 0.1% by 11:15 PM ET (04:15 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.2%.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 gained 0.4%. Shares of Australia's coal miners were under pressure after a Reuters report that China was banning the import of Australian coal in the northern port of Dalian.

Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s KOSPI both traded 0.3% lower.

Sino-U.S. trade talks remained in focus on Friday after Reuters reported on Thursday that Washington and Beijing have begun drawing up memorandums of understanding over trade.

The two sides are trying to reach a trade deal before a March 1 deadline, when additional tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. will go into effect.

On Friday, Reuters said U.S. and Chinese officials have struggled this week to overcome differences on specific language on issues related to structural changes in China’s economy, Reuters reported Citing sources familiar with the talks.

The issues include an enforcement mechanism to ensure that China complies with any agreements, the report said.

"It's not surprising that this week has been more challenging," said an industry source familiar with the talks that were cited by Reuters. "Once you move from putting together outlines to filling out the details, that is where things would naturally become more challenging."

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the Oval Office on Friday, the White House said late on Thursday.

Separately, a pair of tweets posted by Trump on Thursday received some attention as he seemingly hinted that he might take a softer stance on Chinese telecom companies, including Huawei.

“I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies,” said the President.

CNBC said the tweet suggested that Trump is reconsidering a previously-announced ban on Chinese telecoms.

U.S. stocks ended lower on Thursday following the release of a set of weak data that showed a surprise slowdown in business spending and manufacturing activity.

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Canada stocks lower at close of trade; S&P/TSX Composite down 0.19%

– Canada stocks were lower after the close on Thursday, as losses in the Energy, Consumer Staples and Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite lost 0.19%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/TSX Composite were Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd (TO:KL), which rose 8.43% or 3.710 points to trade at 47.720 at the close. Meanwhile, Torex Gold Resources Inc (TO:TXG) added 7.33% or 1.090 points to end at 15.970 and Osisko Gold Ro (TO:OR) was up 6.29% or 0.87 points to 14.70 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Uni-Select Inc. (TO:UNS), which fell 11.41% or 1.70 points to trade at 13.20 at the close. IAMGold Corporation (TO:IMG) declined 5.89% or 0.290 points to end at 4.630 and Finning International Inc . (TO:FTT) was down 4.98% or 1.30 points to 24.79.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Toronto Stock Exchange by 575 to 488 and 122 ended unchanged.

Shares in Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd (TO:KL) rose to all time highs; gaining 8.43% or 3.710 to 47.720. Shares in Uni-Select Inc. (TO:UNS) fell to 3-years lows; losing 11.41% or 1.70 to 13.20. Shares in Torex Gold Resources Inc (TO:TXG) rose to 52-week highs; gaining 7.33% or 1.090 to 15.970. Shares in Osisko Gold Ro (TO:OR) rose to 52-week highs; rising 6.29% or 0.87 to 14.70.

The S&P/TSX 60 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/TSX Composite options, was up 2.19% to 13.54.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 1.62% or 21.85 to $1326.05 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April fell 0.52% or 0.30 to hit $56.86 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract fell 0.01% or 0.01 to trade at $66.97 a barrel.

CAD/USD was up 0.05% to 0.7560, while CAD/EUR rose 0.05% to 0.6669.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.21% at 96.495.

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Day Ahead: Top 3 Things to Watch

- Here’s a preview of the top 3 things that could rock markets tomorrow.

1. How Badly Are European Economies Weakening?

Germany will offer a clue to European economic strength when it releases revised data at 8 AM German time (07:00 GMT) on fourth-quarter gross domestic product. The forecast from economists surveyed by is that the German economy remained flat in the quarter, the same as the earlier estimate.

As important is the 10 AM German time (09:00 GMT) German IFO Business Climate Index. The last five reports have shown the index declining. The forecast of economists surveyed by is for the index to fall slightly to 99 from 99.1.

The European Union will release a report revising its consumer price index at 10:00 GMT. The forecast is for a 1.1% gain, unchanged from a Feb. 1 estimate.

Lastly, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is scheduled to speak while receiving an honorary degree at the University of Bologna in Italy. The speech is at 10:30 AM Italian time (09:30 GMT).

European economies have been struggling over the last year because of worries about Brexit and slowing economic growth overall.

2. Federal Reserve Officials Set to Speak

Many members of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's rate-making body, will speak on Friday.

The two most important speeches are likely to be:

- Vice Chairman Richard Clarida at 12:00 PM ET (17:00 GMT) on "The Federal Reserve's Review of Monetary Policy Strategies, Tools, and Communications," at the U.S. Monetary Policy Forum in New York.

- Randal Quarles, the Fed's Vice Chairman for Supervision, on "The Future of the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet," also at the U.S. Monetary Policy Forum. He speaks at 1:30 PM ET (18:30 GMT).

3. Earnings Reports Thinner, but Still Coming

The crush of reports from the December quarter are starting to wind down.

Look for reports from:

- Royal Bank Of Canada (NYSE:RY).

- AutoNation (NYSE:AN), the big national automobile dealership chain.

- Real estate investment trust WP Carey (NYSE:WPC.

- Natural gas transporter Cheniere Energy Partners (NYSE:CQP).

- Ruth's Hospitality Group (NASDAQ:RUTH), the parent of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain.

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Stocks - Dow Falls as Dour Data Drowns out Trade Optimism

- The Dow ended its three-day winning streak Thursday as downbeat economic data raised concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy, while U.S.-China trade talks remained in the spotlight.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.40%, the S&P 500 lost 0.35%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.39%.

Fresh signs the U.S. economy may not be as robust as many believe prompted traders to rein in their bullish bets as they digested a slew of economic reports, some of which sank to multi-year lows.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's business index fell to its lowest level since May 2016 and the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators fell for the second month in a row in January, the first time that's happened since early 2016.

There wasn’t much to cheer on the housing front, meanwhile, as existing home sales slumped to their lowest levels since Nov. 15.

The negative reports overshadowed optimism on trade, with China and the U.S. reportedly working toward drafting a memorandum of understanding to tackle structural issues, including forced technology transfers, cybertheft, market access and currency.

The high-level trade talks come just a week before the March 1 deadline when, in the absence of a deal, the U.S. could impose higher tariffs on Chinese imports. But President Donald Trump fueled speculation the deadline could be extended, saying earlier this week that March 1 was not a "magical date."

The U.S. has slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, about half the value of U.S. imports from the country. China has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion worth of American exports.

In healthcare, CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) continued to add to losses from a day earlier, when the pharmacy retailer reported fourth-quarter revenue that missed expectations and guided earnings short of estimates.

Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB), meanwhile, fell 4% after Stifel downgraded the stock to hold from buy and cut its price target to $346 from $397, citing "decreased confidence in Alzheimer's, a looming Tecfidera legal saga and well-documented competitive threats to Spinraza."

On the earnings front, Domino’s Pizza Inc (NYSE:DPZ) fell 9.15% after reporting quarterly results that missed estimates provided by . While the The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) rallied 5% as its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue miss was overshadowed by above-consensus comparable store sales growth of 1.9%.

In other corporate news, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) fell 3.7% after Consumer Reports pulled its recommendation for the company's Model 3, citing concerns over reliability.

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

Albemarle (NYSE:ALB), Copart (NASDAQ:CPRT) and Norwegian Cruise Line (NYSE:NCLH) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

TechnipFMC (NYSE:FTI), Concho Resources (NYSE:CXO) and Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

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Gold Posts Biggest Daily Loss in 6 Months as Trade Talks Optimism Builds

By Barani Krishnan

- Positive rhetoric over the trade talks is costing gold dearly.

Gold tumbled its biggest daily loss in six months after Reuters reported on Thursday that the United States and China were making significant progress in ending their seven-month trade war by outlining commitments in principle to end Chinese trade practices objected to by President Donald Trump.

U.S. gold futures benchmark April contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled down $20.10, or 1.5%, at $1,327.80 per ounce, snapping a five-day rally. It was the first drop in Comex gold since Valentine's Day and the sharpest percentage drop in a day since Aug. 13, when it settled down 1.7%.

Spot gold, reflective of trades in physical bullion, slid by $13.92, or 1%, to $1,324.51 per ounce by 2:07 PM ET (19:07 GMT).

Investors have been using gold as a hedge toward economic and political troubles. Progress in the U.S.-China trade negotiations, celebrated in equities and other risk markets, have weighed on the yellow metal. A rival safe haven, the dollar, however, rose on Thursday, climbing 0.2% to 96.498 against a basket of six major currencies.

Fitch Solutions said in a note that it had a neutral outlook on gold over the next three to six months.

"The dovish shift in Fed language over the year-to-date has improved the fundamental outlook for gold prices. Nonetheless, we expect that this development has largely been priced in by the 8% rally in gold prices since November 9, 2018, to $1,308/oz as of February 14," Fitch said.

"Prices should face significant resistance at the top of their three-year trading range around $1,375/oz and we expect that many long-positions would take profit should prices near this level," it added. "This view is bolstered by the fact that net speculative gold positions have already rebounded significantly from the bearish extreme that we highlighted back in November, reducing the potential for further short-covering in the coming months."

On Wall Street, U.S. stock prices moved lower as the Commerce Department said core durable goods orders rose less than expected in December. But losses in equities were muted by trade optimism.

"Markets seem to almost be willing to bypass the weak data that we've seen for the optimism over a resolution on trade," Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial, was quoted saying by Reuters.

Some analysts, however, cautioned against too much optimism being placed on the talks as the negotiations involved tough issues such as Washington's demands for Chinese reparation over matters like forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade.

Palladium remained the world's most valuable traded metal despite its spot price falling $14.90, or 1%, to 1,473.85 per ounce. On Wednesday, spot palladium reached a record high of $1,506.65.

Trades in other Comex metals as of 2:07 PM ET (19:07 GMT):

Palladium futures down $20.30, or 1.4%, at $1,441.80 per ounce.

Silver futures down 39 cents, or 2.4%, at $15.78 per ounce.

Platinum futures down $7.90, or 1%, at $826.30 per ounce.

Copper futures down 2.2 cents, or 0.8%, at $2.90 per pound.

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Dollar Shrugs off Negative U.S. Data to Remain Near Session Highs

- The U.S. dollar traded near session highs Thursday, despite a slew of negative U.S. economic reports pointing to signs of slowing growth in the underlying economy.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, rose 0.22% to 96.50, near session highs of 96.53.

A trio of negative reports across key sectors of the economy undershot economists' forecasts, raising doubts about the strength of the U.S. economy.

The Philadelphia Fed said Thursday its manufacturing index fell to a reading of -4.1 in February from 17.0 last month.

The Commerce Department said core durable goods orders slowed to rate of 0.1% in December, missing economists forecasts for a 0.2% rise.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 1.2% in January from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million units. Economists were expecting a 0.8% increase to 5.01 million homes.

The dour round of data comes just a day after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's January meeting signaled central bank policymakers were preparing to stop shrinking their balance sheet later this year and saw no risk to keeping rates longer for longer.

The greenback, however, since the release of the minutes, has defied expectations that it would soon run out of steam.

"The mostly dovish signal on the balance sheet should keep the USD on the back foot," TD Securities said on Wednesday. "It lends further support to global reach-for-yield and should also reinforce topside resistance in the dollar index."

The euro and pound were modestly lower amid a lack of progress on Brexit talks just weeks ahead of the March 29 deadline when the U.K. is set to leave the EU.

"The worst can be avoided but I'm not very optimistic when it comes to this issue," said European Commission Jean Claude Juncker said Thursday following talks with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

GBP/USD fell 0.12% to $1.3034 and EUR/USD fell 0.05% to $1.1329.

USD/JPY fell 0.08% to Y110.7 as demand for safe-haven yen increased after Wall Street dropped deeper into the red.

USD/CAD gained 0.29% to C$1.3212 as the loonie came under pressure following a fall in oil prices amid data showing a larger-than-expected build in U.S. crude inventories.

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Denmark stocks lower at close of trade; OMX Copenhagen 20 down 0.23%

– Denmark stocks were lower after the close on Thursday, as losses in the Industrials, Financials and Real Estate sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Copenhagen, the OMX Copenhagen 20 lost 0.23%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Copenhagen 20 were Genmab (CO:GEN), which rose 6.89% or 69.5 points to trade at 1077.5 at the close. Meanwhile, FLSmidth&Co. (CO:FLS) added 1.26% or 3.9 points to end at 314.1 and Chr. Hansen Holding A/S (CO:CHRH) was up 1.19% or 7.8 points to 663.4 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were AP Moeller - Maersk A/S B (CO:MAERSKb), which fell 10.12% or 948 points to trade at 8418 at the close. Danske Bank A/S (CO:DANSKE) declined 4.27% or 5.4 points to end at 121.0 and William Demant Holding AS (CO:WDH) was down 3.18% or 6.4 points to 195.0.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange by 70 to 67 and 14 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for April delivery was down 0.59% or 0.34 to $56.82 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 0.37% or 0.25 to hit $66.83 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 1.42% or 19.15 to trade at $1328.75 a troy ounce.

USD/DKK was up 0.07% to 6.5855, while EUR/DKK rose 0.03% to 7.4617.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.21% at 96.498.

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Netherlands stocks higher at close of trade; AEX up 0.10%

– Netherlands stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Industrials, Basic Materials and Consumer Services sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Amsterdam, the AEX gained 0.10% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the AEX were Relx PLC (AS:REL), which rose 4.80% or 0.930 points to trade at 20.300 at the close. Meanwhile, Wolters Kluwer (AS:WLSNc) added 2.91% or 1.64 points to end at 58.02 and Koninklijke KPN NV (AS:KPN) was up 0.73% or 0.020 points to 2.750 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Galapagos NV (AS:GLPG), which fell 3.30% or 2.980 points to trade at 87.220 at the close. Altice NV (AS:ATCA) declined 2.69% or 0.05 points to end at 1.81 and ABN AMRO Group NV (AS:ABNd) was down 1.83% or 0.38 points to 20.35.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange by 72 to 51 and 15 ended unchanged.

Shares in Relx PLC (AS:REL) rose to 5-year highs; up 4.80% or 0.930 to 20.300. Shares in Wolters Kluwer (AS:WLSNc) rose to all time highs; gaining 2.91% or 1.64 to 58.02.

The AEX Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of AEX options, was down 1.07% to 13.20.

Crude oil for April delivery was down 0.56% or 0.32 to $56.84 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 0.36% or 0.24 to hit $66.84 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 1.42% or 19.15 to trade at $1328.75 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was down 0.05% to 1.1329, while EUR/GBP rose 0.05% to 0.8689.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.21% at 96.498.

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U.K. stocks lower at close of trade; Investing.com United Kingdom 100 down 0.58%

– U.K. stocks were lower after the close on Thursday, as losses in the Aerospace&Defense, Banking and Mining sectors led shares lower.

At the close in London, the United Kingdom 100 fell 0.58%.

The best performers of the session on the United Kingdom 100 were Relx PLC (LON:REL), which rose 4.78% or 80.50 points to trade at 1765.50 at the close. Meanwhile, Intu Properties PLC (LON:INTUP) added 2.34% or 2.55 points to end at 111.50 and Hammerson PLC (LON:HMSO) was up 2.33% or 8.50 points to 374.10 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Centrica PLC (LON:CNA), which fell 11.70% or 16.05 points to trade at 121.15 at the close. BAE Systems PLC (LON:BAES) declined 7.85% or 39.60 points to end at 464.80 and Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) was down 4.15% or 112.50 points to 2601.00.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the London Stock Exchange by 1078 to 982 and 318 ended unchanged.

Shares in Relx PLC (LON:REL) rose to 52-week highs; rising 4.78% or 80.50 to 1765.50. Shares in Centrica PLC (LON:CNA) fell to 5-year lows; losing 11.70% or 16.05 to 121.15.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 1.44% or 19.35 to $1328.55 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April fell 0.47% or 0.27 to hit $56.89 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract fell 0.22% or 0.15 to trade at $66.93 a barrel.

GBP/USD was down 0.10% to 1.3036, while EUR/GBP rose 0.08% to 0.8691.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.21% at 96.493.

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MarketPulse: Boston Beer Rallies on Frothy Results

- Boston Beer rallied Wednesday after topping earnings expectations.

Boston Beer (NYSE:SAM) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.86 a share on revenue of $225.2 million, topping estimates compiled by for earnings of $1.69 a share on revenue of $225 million. Its shares rose more than 14%.

The above-consensus results were driven by depletions growth of 11% for the fourth quarter and 13% for the full year. Depletions are the rate at which beer is sold from a distributor to retailers. The company credited strong performance in its Truly Hard Seltzer, Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard brands.

The brewer of Sam Adams touted frothy performance for the current year, targeting double-digit top-line growth and a "significant" increase in operating income.

"We expect first quarter shipments growth to be significantly higher than depletions as we manage our supply chain and capacity to ensure our distributor inventory levels are adequate to support drinker demand for our brands during the peak summer months," said Dave Burwick, the company's President and CEO.

The company guided full-year earnings in the range of $8 to $9 a share.

The upbeat outlook comes as the beer market got off to a strong start for the year, with volume up 3.7% during the first four weeks of 2019, compared with last year, according to market research firm IRI.

Boston Beer’s Sam 76 grew dollar sales 77.8% during the period, while its off-premise multi-outlet and convenience retail channel universe (MULC) store sales rose 22.3%, the report showed.

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Sweden stocks lower at close of trade; OMX Stockholm 30 down 1.00%

– Sweden stocks were lower after the close on Thursday, as losses in the Financials, Oil&Gas and Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Stockholm, the OMX Stockholm 30 lost 1.00%.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Stockholm 30 were Tele2 AB (ST:TEL2b), which rose 1.20% or 1.45 points to trade at 121.95 at the close. Meanwhile, Boliden AB (ST:BOL) added 1.06% or 2.60 points to end at 248.50 and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Class B (ST:ERICb) was up 0.99% or 0.84 points to 86.10 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Swedbank AB ser A (ST:SWEDa), which fell 9.34% or 17.0 points to trade at 165.1 at the close. Nordea Bank Abp (ST:NDASE) declined 4.49% or 3.80 points to end at 80.90 and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB A (ST:SEBa) was down 4.04% or 3.84 points to 91.12.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Stockholm Stock Exchange by 399 to 255 and 41 ended unchanged.

Shares in Tele2 AB (ST:TEL2b) rose to 5-year highs; rising 1.20% or 1.45 to 121.95. Shares in Swedbank AB ser A (ST:SWEDa) fell to 52-week lows; down 9.34% or 17.0 to 165.1.

Crude oil for April delivery was down 0.52% or 0.30 to $56.86 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 0.18% or 0.12 to hit $66.96 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 1.38% or 18.65 to trade at $1329.25 a troy ounce.

EUR/SEK was up 0.40% to 10.6064, while USD/SEK rose 0.46% to 9.3628.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.22% at 96.507.

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Tech Stocks Rise Midday After Trump Touts 5G

- Technology stocks rose midday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted 5G or even 6G mobile connectivity speeds in America, giving attention to advanced electronic companies.

"I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible," Trump tweeted. "It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind."

The S&P 500 Information Technology sector rose 0.49%, while Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) gained 0.1% and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) dipped 0.25%.

Rogers Corp . (NYSE:ROG), which makes circuit solutions for mobile tech, jumped 12% midday amid the news as its stock target was raised to $160 from $155 by B. Riley FBR, according to Briefing.com.

The company beat on its fourth-quarter revenue results, although it lowered guidance.

“Ahead, fundamental catalysts are China's 5G trial deployments while financial catalysts are a respective 25% and 58% rise in 9- and 18-month EPS from 1Q19 levels,” Briefing.com reported.

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Turkey stocks higher at close of trade; BIST 100 up 0.51%

– Turkey stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Information Technology, Technology and Textile&Leather sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Istanbul, the BIST 100 rose 0.51%.

The best performers of the session on the BIST 100 were Ihlas Holding AS (IS:IHLAS), which rose 9.38% or 0.030 points to trade at 0.350 at the close. Meanwhile, Indeks Bilgisayar Sistemleri Muhendislik Sanayi ve Ticaret AS (IS:INDES) added 7.07% or 0.520 points to end at 7.880 and Tumosan Motor ve Traktor Sanayi AS (IS:TMSN) was up 4.32% or 0.200 points to 4.830 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS ORD (IS:TCELL), which fell 6.70% or 1.00 points to trade at 13.93 at the close. Turk Telekomunikasyon AS (IS:TTKOM) declined 4.21% or 0.23 points to end at 5.23 and Enerjisa Enerji AS (IS:ENJSA) was down 1.93% or 0.11 points to 5.58.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Istanbul Stock Exchange by 228 to 126 and 53 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 1.06% or 14.25 to $1333.65 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April fell 0.12% or 0.07 to hit $57.09 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.16% or 0.11 to trade at $67.19 a barrel.

USD/TRY was up 0.14% to 5.3286, while EUR/TRY rose 0.25% to 6.0420.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.12% at 96.407.

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U.S. Crude Oil Inventories Rise by 3.67M Barrels Last Week: EIA

- U.S. crude oil inventories increased last week, the Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report on Thursday.

The EIA data showed that crude oil inventories rose by 3.67 million barrels in the week to Feb. 15.

That was compared to forecasts for a stockpile build of 3.08 million barrels, after a gain of 3.63 million barrels in the previous week.

The EIA report also showed that gasoline inventories fell by 1.45 million barrels, compared to expectations for a draw of 0.35 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles decreased by 1.52 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a decline of 1.69 million.

U.S. crude prices pared losses immediately after the data release, falling 0.14% at $57.08 a barrel by 11:06 AM ET (16:06 GMT), compared to $56.89 prior to the publication.

London-traded Brent crude futures gained 0.15% to $67.18 a barrel, compared to $66.92 ahead of the release.

The report was released one day later than normal due to Monday’s holiday.

Crude has rallied more than 20% this year amid indications that OPEC-led output cuts have helped tighten an oversupplied market, while West Texas Intermediate chalked up gains of nearly 3% this week amid positive news flow from trade talks between the U.S. and China in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump said this week that talks were going well and suggested he may be open to delaying a March 1 deadline on new tariffs, depending on progress in the negotiations.

The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest oil consuming nations. Hopes that the two sides would hammer out an agreement resolving their protracted trade war helped to ease worries about energy demand.

Oil bears, however, point to escalating production in the U.S. as a factor that could counteract efforts by OPEC and its allies to rebalance the market. Thursday’s report showed that U.S. output hit a record high last week of 12.0 million barrels per day

The EIA had warned on Tuesday that U.S. output is set to keep rising thanks to booming shale oil production.

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U.S. Existing Home Sales Hit Bottom at 3-Year Low - NAR

- Sales of previously-owned U.S. homes fell unexpectedly in January, to the lowest level in more than three years, but the National Association of Realtors believes they have finally hit a bottom.

Existing home sales fell 1.2% in January from the previous month to an annualized pace of 4.94 million units, according to NAR figures released on Thursday.

After hitting their lowest level since November 2015, NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun said that sales likely hit a bottom in January. Inventories of unsold houses rose for the sixth straight month to 1.59 million, from 1.53 million in December

“Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low,” he said.

The NAR acknowledged that affordability in the real estate market - and a lack of lower-priced housing in general - remained a problem. But it said it expects affordability to improve in the course of the year.

One reason for that may be that mortgage rates have started to decline again as the Federal Reserve has suspended its policy of official rate hikes. The NAR cited Freddie Mac data showing that the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.46 percent in January from 4.64 percent in December.

“Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months,” Yun predicted.

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Stocks - Wall Street Falls After Weak U.S. Economic Data

– Wall Street fell on Thursday as disappointing economic data outweighed news of progress in resolving the trade war between the U.S. and China.

The latest batch of data suggest the economy may be starting to slow, increasing the case for the Federal Reserve to continue pausing rate increases. New orders for durable goods, excluding volatile items, fell unexpectedly in December, while business activity in the mid-Atlantic region declined to its weakest level since May 2016, according to the Philadelphia Fed's monthly survey.

The S&P 500 fell 6 points or 0.22% as of 9:33 AM ET (14:33 GMT), while the Dow lost 21 points, or 0.08%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite decreased 8 points, or 0.11%.

"The numbers on Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing and durable goods are volatile, indicating that the economy is slowing," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

"Overall, it is showing that the economy is not as strong as it was in the summer of 2018."

Meanwhile, the U.S. and China appear to be moving closer to ending their trade war, increasing the chance that the two sides can make a deal before a tariff increase on Chinese goods on March 1 comes into force.

The two largest economies in the world have made the most significant progress to date, outlining commitments in areas such as intellectual property rights, services, currency and agriculture barriers to trade, Reuters reported.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) was down after the morning bell, falling 0.7%, while Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) dipped 0.3% and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) slipped 0.4%. Nike (NYSE:NKE) decreased 1% after Duke basketball player Zion Williamson was injured when his Nike shoe split during a game.

Elsewhere, Norwegian Cruise gained 3% after its earnings beat forecasts, while AMD increased 0.5% and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was up 0.3%.

-Reuters contributed to this story.

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U.S. Jobless Claims Fall by 23,000 in Latest Week

- The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. fell more than expected last week, indicating the American economy is still robust and suggesting that after last week's surprise increase in unemployment numbers may be a blip.

The U.S. Department of Labor said that the number of individuals applying for initial jobless benefits in the week to Feb. 15 fell to a seasonally adjusted 216,000.

Analysts expected 220,000 initial claims, down from the previous week’s jump to 239,000.

The four-week moving average was 235,750, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week. The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data.

Continuing jobless claims fell to 1.725 million from 1.780 million a week earlier. These claims reflect people who recently lost their jobs and are already receiving benefits.

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U.S. Durable Goods Orders Rise 1.2% in December, Topping Expectations

-Orders for durable goods, which are meant to last at least three years or more, rose more than expected in December, according to data released on Thursday.

Durable-goods orders increased 1.2% last month, the Commerce Department said. Economists had forecast a 0.8% rise.

That was due largely to a strong performance from the transportation sector, which is known for its volatility due to the 'lumpiness' of big-ticket items such as aircraft. Transportation equipment orders, which have risen in four of the last five months rose 3.3 percent to $90.2 billion, the Census Bureau said.

Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders only inched up 0.1%, missing expectations for a gain of 0.2%.

The numbers were delayed due to the government shutdown at the end of 2018.

A key measure of business investment, meanwhile, fell in December. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely-watched proxy for business spending plans, declined by 0.7% from a month earlier.

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Stocks - Johnson&Johnson, Domino’s Slide in Premarket, PG&E, Avis Jump

- Stocks in focus in premarket trade Thursday:

• Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) stock slumped 2.68% by 8:07 AM ET (13:07 GMT) after the company said that it had received federal subpoenas related to alleged asbestos contamination of its baby powder.

• Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) stock tumbled 6.60% as its quarterly earnings and comparable sales also fell short of expectations.

• PG&E stock jumped 2.97% as the company extended the deadline for investors to file documentation in order to nominate candidates for directors on the board.

Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ:CAR) stock surged 11.70% after quarterly profit beat analysts’ expectations.

• Jack In The Box (NASDAQ:JACK) stock soared 5.05% as the company reported fiscal first-quarter results that topped consensus on the top and bottom lines.

The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE) stock may see movement in the regular session after the company reported quarterly same-store sales that topped estimates.

• Hormel Foods (NYSE:HRL) stock dropped 0.88% after the company reported quarterly revenue that fell short of expectations.

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India stocks higher at close of trade; Nifty 50 up 0.51%

– India stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Metals, Consumer Durables and Healthcare sectors led shares higher.

At the close in NSE, the Nifty 50 gained 0.51%, while the BSE Sensex 30 index gained 0.40%.

The best performers of the session on the Nifty 50 were Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd (NS:INBF), which rose 6.32% or 40.75 points to trade at 683.95 at the close. Meanwhile, Tata Motors Ltd (NS:TAMO) added 3.16% or 5.20 points to end at 169.70 and Bajaj Finserv Ltd (NS:BJFS) was up 3.21% or 192.60 points to 6169.10 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Bharti Infratel Ltd (NS:BHRI), which fell 1.87% or 5.95 points to trade at 312.55 at the close. Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (NS:BPCL) declined 1.20% or 4.10 points to end at 335.30 and Yes Bank Ltd (NS:YESB) was down 1.08% or 2.35 points to 215.15.

The top performers on the BSE Sensex 30 were Tata Motors Ltd (BO:TAMO) which rose 2.94% to 169.70, Vedanta Ltd (BO:VDAN) which was up 2.78% to settle at 164.60 and Tata Motors Ltd DVR (BO:TAMdv) which gained 2.74% to close at 88.00.

The worst performers were Yes Bank Ltd (BO:YESB) which was down 1.33% to 215.00 in late trade, Infosys Ltd (BO:INFY) which lost 0.91% to settle at 733.35 and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (BO:MRTI) which was down 0.76% to 6796.80 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the India National Stock Exchange by 1093 to 484 and 60 ended unchanged; on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 1535 rose and 927 declined, while 135 ended unchanged.

The India VIX, which measures the implied volatility of Nifty 50 options, was down 5.88% to 16.0525.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.74% or 9.95 to $1337.95 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.19% or 0.11 to hit $57.27 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract fell 0.07% or 0.05 to trade at $67.03 a barrel.

USD/INR was up 0.16% to 71.175, while EUR/INR rose 0.30% to 80.7205.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.11% at 96.403.

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MarketPulse Europe: The Pervasive Stench of Money-Laundering

By Geoffrey Smith

- “Money doesn’t stink,” is one of the oldest principles in business. The first-century Roman emperor Vespasian first coined the phrase to defend raising taxes on the urine extracted from Rome’s sewers.

But the idea that money isn’t tainted by its origins is one that Europe’s banks have taken too closely to heart in the past, and they are suffering for it now in a big way.

Switzerland’s UBS (SIX:UBSG) is down 2% this morning after a French court fined it 4.5 billion euros ($5 billion) for helping its clients avoid taxes, a sum that will swallow around 80% of last year’s pretax profit.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Swedbank (ST:SWEDa) is down another 8.2% - after losing 15% on Wednesday on allegations linking it to Danske Bank's (CO:DANSKE) funnelling of illicit funds out of the former Soviet Union. Broadcaster SVT said the bank was linked to $5.8 billion of questionable transactions, including some linked to the case involving Sergey Magnitsky, the lawyer who died in prison after helping to expose money-laundering by Russian officials.

Swedbank’s Scandinavian rival Nordea (HE:NDAFI) and Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) are also under pressure. Arguably the only thing that smells worse this morning is the lingering whiff of Juventus' (MI:JUVE) defending in the Champions League defeat in Madrid last night. Its shares are down 8%.

Despite all that, the Stoxx 600 index was down only 0.2% at 370.80 by 05:00 AM ET (1000 GMT). That’s because flash readings of IHS Markit’s purchasing managers indexes suggest the euro zone economy may be bottoming out in February – even if it’s still on course for only 0.1% growth in the first quarter.

Swedbank disputes the scale of the payments alleged by SVT, while UBS is appealing the French fine. But it will be a while before any of the banks involved can hope to draw a line under the affairs.

Of course, when they finally do, they’ll find shareholders are a forgiving bunch after all. The U.K.’s Standard Chartered (LON:STAN) is up 0.2% Thursday morning after setting aside ‘only’ $900 million to settle allegations of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and manipulating foreign exchange rates.

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Euro Zone Economy Set for Weak 1Q After Unconvincing PMI Stabilization

- The euro zone's economy is set for another quarter of near-stagnation after an uncertain-looking stabilization in February, according to closely watched business surveys released Thursday.

The region's services sector accelerated to a three-month high in February, but manufacturing activity shrank at the fastest pace in almost six years as Brexit woes and worries over slowing growth in Italy and Germany continues to put pressure on the bloc.

"The survey data suggest that GDP may struggle to rise by much more than 0.1% in the first quarter." said Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit.

"Germany is on course to grow by 0.2%, buoyed by its service sector, but France looks set to stagnate or even contract very slightly. The rest of the region is meanwhile suffering its worst spell since late-2013, with growth having slipped closer to stalling in February," he continued.

Markit said that its flash Euro Zone Composite Output Index, which measures the combined output of both the manufacturing and service sectors, rose to 51.4 this month, improving from 51.0 in January.

Economists polled by had forecast a reading of 51.1.

The flash services purchasing managers’ index increased to 52.3 this month from 51.2 in January, above expectations of 51.5.

The preliminary euro zone manufacturing PMI fell to a 69-month low of 49.2 from 50.5 in January, due largely to a sharp drop in Germany. Analysts had expected a reading of 50.3.

On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates industry expansion, while one below it indicates contraction.

The slowdown in the euro zone has led the European Central Bank to consider fresh stimulus measures, as the bloc continues to weaken. The ECB is expected to cut its growth forecasts in March and is discussing issuing targeted long-term refinancing operation loans to help stimulate the economy, ECB officials have said.

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Services Rescue German Private Sector Activity in February

- German private-sector activity picked up in February, according to data released on Thursday, as buoyant services compensated for a sharp contraction in the manufacturing sector, traditionally the euro-zone economy's most powerful growth engine.

The preliminary reading of the IHS Markit composite output index, which measures the combined output of both the manufacturing and service sectors, advanced to a four-month high of 52.7 from 52.1, ahead of expectations for 52.0.

The services PMI rose to a five-month peak of 55.1, ahead of expectations for 52.9 and up from 53.0 a month earlier.

However, the manufacturing PMI fell to its lowest in more than six years at 47.6, from 49.7 in January. Economists had expected a reading of 50.0, the level that notionally separates expansion from contraction.

“Germany’s manufacturing and service sectors remain on very different paths," said Phil Smith, Principal Economist at IHS Markit. "While strong fundamentals in the domestic market are driving growth in services business activity, falling exports continue to weigh on the performance of the manufacturing sector," he added.

The data come after the German economy stagnated in the fourth quarter, after contracting in the three months through September.

In its latest monthly report, Germany’s central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, said that recent weak readings in factory orders and a decline in business confidence suggested little hope of an immediate rebound for the euro area’s largest economy.

It predicted that the “underlying pace of the economy should remain subdued at least in the first half of the year”, although it said “there are no signs that the slowdown is becoming an outright downturn.”

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Early PMIs Lift Euro After Balanced Fed Minutes

-- The euro turned higher against the dollar in early trading in Europe Thursday, as purchasing manager indices from France and Germany signalled that the euro-zone economy may be bottoming out after its slowdown at the end of 2018.

At 03:30 AM ET (0830 GMT), the eurowas at $1.1354, just below a two-week high against the dollar, after PMI readings that outstripped expectations - even though Germany's manufacturing sector appeared to contract in February.

The dollar index that measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies was at 96.297, close to a two-week low. That's despite a broadly balanced set of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting that indicated that interest rates could still rise later in the year if the current uncertainty over the economy clears.

"The dollar drew some lift as the minutes appeared to have appeased market participants who were clinging to views that the Fed would hike rates one more time this year - but all in all, the minutes were in line with what the Fed said in January," said Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist at Mizuho Bank.

However, the greenback and the euro were down against the British pound, after an upbeat statement following a meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The statement revived hopes that a ‘no-deal Brexit’ can be avoided at the end of next month, despite increasing signs of political disarray in the U.K. Reports suggest that May is coming under increasing pressure to push back the March 29 date when the U.K. is slated to leave the EU.

Both the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party have been hit this week by defections from their more centrist lawmakers, most of whom want the U.K. to stay in the EU. Neither party has changed its stance on Brexit immediately as a result, but the splintering appears to make the arithmetic of getting a parliamentary majority for any sort of Brexit deal more complicated.

The risks of a no-deal Brexit were spelled out by Fitch Ratings Agency late Wednesday, which put the U.K.’s credit rating on “negative watch” – a preliminary step to a downgrade – saying that at a disorderly Brexit risks a severe recession.

Elsewhere overnight, the Australian dollar fell some 1% against the greenback after reports of a ban on coal imports by one of China’s biggest ports. The report illustrated the sensitivity of the Aussie to Chinese demand for its commodities. The kiwi also edged lower after the report.

And the South African South African rand hit a one-week high, recouping the losses it made Wednesday after the government announced a $4.9 bailout for stricken power company Eskom. The bailout was smaller than feared but comes at a time when the budget deficit is at its widest in 10 years.

-Reuters contributed to this report.

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French Private-Sector Output Stabilizes in February

- French private-sector activity stabilized in February after successive contractions in the previous two months, a report showed on Thursday.

The preliminary reading of the IHS Markit composite output index, which measures the combined output of both the manufacturing and service sectors, rose to a three-month high of 49.9, from 48.2 in January. Economists had forecast a reading of 49.0.

“February flash data pointed to a broad stabilisation in output...offering relatively positive news after the weak performances of December and January," said Eliot Kerr, an economist at survey compiler IHS Markit.

“Although the ‘gilets jaunes’ protests are still ongoing and panellists have suggested that these are still causing disruption, the economy showed resilience in the latest survey period," Kerr added. "Encouragingly, the rate of job creation accelerated and new orders declined only marginally, arresting the downward momentum
seen over the past couple of months,"

Service providers reported only a fractional decline in business activity, the report said, while manufacturers saw production broadly stabilize.

Companies reported adding new staff at a quicker pace in February, with job creation rising faster in the service sector.

Companies remained optimistic towards the business outlook. The level of confidence was broadly in line with January, despite a slight fall in sentiment among manufacturers.

The services PMI climbed to a three-month high, ticking up to 49.8 from 47.8 in January, which was the sharpest contraction in over four years.

The manufacturing PMI hit the highest level in five months, hitting 51.4 up from 51.2 in January and ahead of expectations for a reading of 51.0.

A reading above 50.0 on the index indicates expansion, below indicates contraction.

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Gold Future Price Dips as Risk Appetite Returns on Renewed Trade Deal Hopes

- Gold prices dipped on Thursday in Asia as risk appetite sharpened following reports that the U.S. and China are working on multiple memorandums of understanding (MoU) for a trade deal.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that the MoUs would cover areas including agriculture, non-tariff barriers, services, technology transfer and intellectual property. The move is the most significant progress yet toward ending the Sino-U.S. trade war, Reuters said.

“The broad outline of what could make up a deal is beginning to emerge from the talks,” the source said, although he cautioned the trade talks could still fail.

The news was cited as a tailwind for Asian equities on Thursday, while safe-haven gold dipped.

Gold futures fell 0.5% to $1,340.95 per ounce by 1:50 AM ET (06:50 GMT) on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s January meeting received some focus earlier in the day, as the Fed signalled it was preparing to stop trimming its balance sheet later this year.

"Almost all participants thought that it would be desirable to announce before too long a plan to stop reducing the Federal Reserve’s asset holdings later this year," the minutes showed.

The Fed also expressed a willingness to keep rate hikes on hold to get a better sense of the health of the U.S. economy and the extent of deteriorating global growth.

In a weaker interest rate environment, investor appetite for gold strengthens as the opportunity cost of holding the precious metal decreases relative to other interest-bearing assets such as bonds.

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Oil Prices Rise on Trade Deal Hopes; API Reports Surprise Increase in Crude Stocks

- Oil prices rose on Thursday in Asia amid some positive trade news that suggested the U.S. and China would be able to reach a deal by the early March deadline.

Citing sources familiar with negotiations, Reuters reported that U.S. and China have begun to outline a deal to end their trade dispute.

“The broad outline of what could make up a deal is beginning to emerge from the talks,” one of the sources said. He warned that the talks could still fail as China has not yet met the demands requested by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on issues related to structural changes to China’s economy.

Asian equities advanced following the news, while oil prices also traded in the green.

U.S. Crude Oil WTI Futures was up 0.4% at $57.39 by 1:28 AM ET (06:28 GMT). International Brent Oil Futures also rose 0.2% to 67.19.

Oil prices have been receiving some support from supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC, along with Russia, agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a large supply overhang from growing.

Oil prices traded slightly lower at the start of Asian trading on Thursday after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a surprise increase in crude stocks.

U.S. crude stocks for the week ended February 15 were up 1.3 million barrels, the API said. Analysts previously expected U.S. crude stocks to have increased by 3.5 million barrels for the same period.

The API report came after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday in a monthly report that U.S. crude output, which soared by more than 2 million bpd in 2018 to a record 11.9 million bpd, is set to keep rising thanks to booming shale oil production.

Official oil inventory and production data by the EIA are due to be published later in the day.

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Yuan Moves Higher on Positive Trade News; Aussie Dollar Dips

- The Chinese yuan moved higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday in Asia following reports that Washington and Beijing started to outline a trade deal to end a seven-month long trade war.

Citing sources familiar with the negotiations, Reuters reported on Thursday in Asia that “the broad outline of what could make up a deal is beginning to emerge from the talks.” The move is the most significant progress yet toward ending the Sino-U.S. trade war, Reuters said.

The sources added that officials from both sides are drawing up six memorandums of understanding on structural issues such as forced technology transfer and non-tariff barriers to trade.

The news was cited as a tailwind for the Chinese yuan. The USD/CNY pair last traded at 6.6995 by 12:52 AM ET (05:52 GMT), down 0.3%.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) raised Yuan's fixing by 338 pips to 6.7220 per USD vs the previous day's fix of 6.7558.

Meanwhile, The AUD/USD pair traded 0.7% lower at 0.7109. The Aussie dollar rallied early in the session to a two-week peak of 0.7207 against the dollar on strong domestic January employment data.

The Australian currency quickly dipped later in the day after Westpac dropped a changed forecast for its Reserve Bank of Australia policy outlook.

The bank said it expects two rate cuts from the Bank, the first in August 2019 to be followed with another in November 2019.

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe had sent the Aussie tumbling early in February by stepping back from the central bank's long-standing tightening bias, saying the next move in interest rates could be either down or up.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was up 0.1% to 96.412.

Overnight, the minutes from the Federal Reserve strengthened expectations the central bank will leave interest rates on hold this year.

Federal Reserve policymakers expressed a willingness to end its balance sheet unwinding program later this year and keep rate hikes on hold to get a better sense of the health of U.S. economy and the extent of deteriorating global growth, minutes published Wednesday showed.

"Almost all participants thought that it would be desirable to announce before too long a plan to stop reducing the Federal Reserve’s asset holdings later this year," the minutes showed.

The USD/JPY pair was little changed at 110.74.

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Lenovo Jumps More Than 10% on Better-than-expected Quarterly Results

- Shares in Hong Kong-listed computer maker Lenovo Group (SIX:0992) surged more than 10% on Thursday after the company announced better-than-expected quarterly results.

The company posted its highest group revenue in four years of $14.04 billion, up 8.5% year-on-year, while that from its PC and smart devices group rose 12% to a record $10.7 billion. Pre-tax income came in at $350 million, an all-time record for the company.

Net profit for the fiscal quarter was $233 million, compared to the net loss of $289 million in the same quarter of 2018, according to a filing.

Lenovo is optimistic of further growth in China and will focus on the premium market, CEO and chairman Yang Yuanqing told Reuters in an interview, although he added that the ongoing trade spat between the U.S. and China could have a negative impact on global economic growth.

“Definitely we don’t want to see more trade war, political tension. If that continues, that would affect everyone, not just us, all multinationals,” Yang said.

Lenovo’s shares jumped 11.4% to HK$6.64 by 11:43 PM ET (04:43 GMT). It was the company’s best one-day gains in almost 10 years.

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EOS Climbs 10% In Bullish Trade

- EOS was trading at $3.9285 by 18:59 (23:59 GMT) on the Index on Wednesday, up 10.09% on the day. It was the largest one-day percentage gain since February 20.

The move upwards pushed EOS's market cap up to $3.5313B, or 2.60% of the total cryptocurrency market cap. At its highest, EOS's market cap was $17.5290B.

EOS had traded in a range of $3.4694 to $3.9285 in the previous twenty-four hours.

Over the past seven days, EOS has seen a rise in value, as it gained 36.15%. The volume of EOS traded in the twenty-four hours to time of writing was $1.9057B or 6.47% of the total volume of all cryptocurrencies. It has traded in a range of $2.7192 to $3.9285 in the past 7 days.

At its current price, EOS is still down 82.90% from its all-time high of $22.98 set on April 29, 2018.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading

Bitcoin was last at $3,976.2 on the Index, up 1.56% on the day.

Ethereum was trading at $149.43 on the Index, a gain of 3.62%.

Bitcoin's market cap was last at $70.0376B or 51.53% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, while Ethereum's market cap totaled $15.6472B or 11.51% of the total cryptocurrency market value.

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Canada stocks higher at close of trade; S&P/TSX Composite up 0.59%

– Canada stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Materials, Financials and Industrials sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite rose 0.59% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/TSX Composite were Semafo Inc . (TO:SMF), which rose 6.85% or 0.23 points to trade at 3.59 at the close. Meanwhile, Teck Resources Ltd B (TO:TECKb) added 4.96% or 1.44 points to end at 30.50 and Aphria Inc (TO:APHA) was up 4.93% or 0.630 points to 13.400 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Uni-Select Inc. (TO:UNS), which fell 22.68% or 4.37 points to trade at 14.90 at the close. Fortuna Silver Mines Inc (TO:FVI) declined 7.90% or 0.43 points to end at 5.01 and Aritzia Inc (TO:ATZ) was down 7.86% or 1.41 points to 16.52.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Toronto Stock Exchange by 716 to 389 and 110 ended unchanged.

Shares in Uni-Select Inc. (TO:UNS) fell to 3-years lows; down 22.68% or 4.37 to 14.90.

The S&P/TSX 60 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/TSX Composite options, was down 6.03% to 13.25 a new 3-months low.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.26% or 3.55 to $1341.25 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.42% or 0.80 to hit $57.25 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.06% or 0.04 to trade at $67.16 a barrel.

CAD/USD was up 0.04% to 0.7591, while CAD/EUR unchanged 0.00% to 0.6692.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.05% at 96.395.

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Agilent Technologies Earnings, Revenue beat in Q1

- Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A) reported first quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Wednesday and revenue that topped forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $0.76 on revenue of $1.28B. Analysts polled by forecast EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $1.27B. That compared to EPS of $0.66 on revenue of $1.21B in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $0.81 on revenue of $1.28B in the previous quarter.

Agilent Technologies shares lost 2.74% to trade at $76.41 in after-hours trade following the report.

Agilent Technologies follows other major Technology sector earnings this month


On January 30, Microsoft reported second quarter EPS of $1.1 on revenue of $32.47B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.09 on revenue of $32.47B.

Apple earnings beat analyst's expectations on January 29, with first quarter EPS of $4.18 on revenue of $84.31B. analysts expected EPS of $4.17 on revenue of $83.97B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Synopsys Earnings, Revenue beat in Q1

- Synopsys (NASDAQ:SNPS) reported first quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Wednesday and revenue that topped forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $1.08 on revenue of $820.4M. Analysts polled by expected EPS of $0.97 on revenue of $795.83M. That compared to EPS of $1.1 on revenue of $769.43M in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $0.78 on revenue of $795.08M in the previous quarter.

Synopsys follows other major Technology sector earnings this month


On January 30, Microsoft reported second quarter EPS of $1.1 on revenue of $32.47B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.09 on revenue of $32.47B.

Apple earnings beat analyst's expectations on January 29, with first quarter EPS of $4.18 on revenue of $84.31B. analysts expected EPS of $4.17 on revenue of $83.97B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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France stocks higher at close of trade; CAC 40 up 0.69%

– France stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Consumer Goods, Gas&Water and General Financial sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Paris, the CAC 40 gained 0.69% to hit a new 3-months high, while the SBF 120 index climbed 0.66%.

The best performers of the session on the CAC 40 were Valeo SA (PA:VLOF), which rose 3.68% or 1.00 points to trade at 28.16 at the close. Meanwhile, TechnipFMC PLC (PA:FTI) added 3.59% or 0.75 points to end at 21.62 and Peugeot SA (PA:PEUP) was up 2.83% or 0.61 points to 22.18 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Carrefour SA (PA:CARR), which fell 0.94% or 0.17 points to trade at 17.90 at the close. Sanofi SA (PA:SASY) declined 0.63% or 0.47 points to end at 74.20 and Atos SE (PA:ATOS) was down 0.26% or 0.22 points to 82.86.

The top performers on the SBF 120 were Metropole Television SA (PA:MMTP) which rose 9.34% to 15.69, DBV Technologies (PA:DBV) which was up 6.93% to settle at 14.510 and Air France KLM SA (PA:AIRF) which gained 6.12% to close at 11.010.

The worst performers were Nexity (PA:NEXI) which was down 6.84% to 39.76 in late trade, Vicat (PA:VCTP) which lost 6.52% to settle at 41.28 and Rothschild&Co SCA (PA:ROTH) which was down 2.59% to 28.250 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Paris Stock Exchange by 314 to 248 and 93 ended unchanged.

The CAC 40 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of CAC 40 options, was down 2.49% to 14.24.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.25% or 3.35 to $1348.15 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.47% or 0.83 to hit $57.28 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.02% or 0.68 to trade at $67.13 a barrel.

EUR/USD was up 0.24% to 1.1367, while EUR/GBP rose 0.07% to 0.8686.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.20% at 96.157.

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Crude Oil Flirts With 3-Month Highs, but Analysts Warn Slippery Road Ahead

- Crude oil prices remained near three-month highs Wednesday as fears that record output from U.S. shale producers next month would add to the glut in supply were offset by Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih's positive remarks on further production cuts from OPEC members.

But analysts warned the sun could soon set on the rally in oil prices.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude futures for April delivery rose 96 cents to $57.41 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent added 82 cents to trade at $67.27 a barrel.

Al-Falih said Wednesday OPEC members had pledged to cut production in line with their current output agreement in the coming months in an effort to stabilize oil prices.

"I have been speaking to many ministers and those who have been slow in achieving their targets in January have all committed to getting quickly into position to meet their commitment through six months," Al-Falih said.

A monitoring committee for an OPEC and non-OPEC oil supply reduction deal said compliance with the agreement to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day production cuts was at 83%, four delegates from the group told Reuters on Wednesday.

Falih's positive remarks on further production cuts helped oil prices hold onto their gains, but analyst warned the rally may soon run out of out of steam.

"(T)here are already signs that growth in demand will be weaker this year, which will remove much of the pressure on supply and take the heat out of prices," according to Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics.

Oil prices are up more than 20% since the turn of the year, underpinned by production cuts from OPEC members and supply outages in Venezuela and Iran amid U.S. sanctions. But the ongoing ramp-up in U.S. output threatens to keep a lid on the rally.

"But our forecast of more subdued growth in demand in the coming months, coupled with persistently strong U.S. output, suggests that prices will fall back," Bain added.

Crude oil production from seven major U.S. shale plays is estimated to rise by 84,000 barrels a day in March to 8.398 million barrels a day, the Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.

The positive day for crude prices comes ahead of U.S. crude inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday at 4:30 PM ET. A report from EIA on Thursday is expected to show a build in U.S. crude inventories for the week ended Feb. 15.

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Norway stocks lower at close of trade; Oslo OBX down 0.27%

– Norway stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Pharma Biotech&Life Sciences, Food, Beverages&Tobacco and Capital Goods sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Oslo, the Oslo OBX declined 0.27%.

The best performers of the session on the Oslo OBX were Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OL:NWC), which rose 11.21% or 5.87 points to trade at 58.20 at the close. Meanwhile, DNO International ASA (OL:DNO) added 5.19% or 0.95 points to end at 19.15 and Golden Ocean Group Ltd (OL:GOGLT) was up 2.63% or 1.16 points to 45.20 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were SalMar ASA (OL:SALM), which fell 4.34% or 19.00 points to trade at 419.00 at the close. Nel ASA (OL:NEL) declined 2.81% or 0.140 points to end at 4.844 and Marine Harvest ASA (OL:MOWI) was down 2.25% or 4.50 points to 195.40.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Oslo Stock Exchange by 113 to 97 and 32 ended unchanged.

Shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OL:NWC) rose to 5-year lows; gaining 11.21% or 5.87 to 58.20. Shares in DNO International ASA (OL:DNO) rose to 3-years highs; rising 5.19% or 0.95 to 19.15.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.67% or 0.94 to $57.39 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.22% or 0.81 to hit $67.26 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.30% or 4.05 to trade at $1348.85 a troy ounce.

EUR/NOK was up 0.33% to 9.7428, while USD/NOK rose 0.08% to 8.5702.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.21% at 96.148.

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Israel stocks higher at close of trade; TA 35 up 0.62%

– Israel stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Communication, Real Estate and Financials sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Tel Aviv, the TA 35 gained 0.62% to hit a new 1-month high.

The best performers of the session on the TA 35 were Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp Ltd (TA:BEZQ), which rose 5.04% or 15.8 points to trade at 329.5 at the close. Meanwhile, Phoenix Holdings Ltd (TA:PHOE1) added 3.42% or 70 points to end at 2116 and Delek Drilling LP (TA:DEDRp) was up 2.32% or 27 points to 1190 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TA:TEVA), which fell 2.23% or 145 points to trade at 6363 at the close. ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd (TA:ICL) declined 0.54% or 11 points to end at 2020 and Israel Corp (TA:ILCO) was down 0.38% or 400 points to 104100.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by 248 to 136 and 32 ended unchanged.

Shares in Delek Drilling LP (TA:DEDRp) rose to 52-week highs; rising 2.32% or 27 to 1190.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.91% or 1.08 to $57.53 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.31% or 0.87 to hit $67.32 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.23% or 3.05 to trade at $1347.85 a troy ounce.

USD/ILS was down 0.22% to 3.6085, while EUR/ILS rose 0.03% to 4.1021.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.19% at 96.170.

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Financial Stocks Active Midday as Charles Schwab Downgraded to Sell

- Financial stocks struggled to stay afloat Wednesday as a downgrade of Charles Schwab hampered the sector.

UBS lowered its rating of Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) to sell from neutral due to growth barriers, Briefing.com reported. The financial services company lost 2.3% in midday trading.

Meanwhile, UBS Group (NYSE:UBS) slipped 3% after the company was ordered to pay more than 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) by a Paris court in a French tax fraud case. The company was found to be guilty of helping French clients store undeclared assets in Swiss accounts. UBS said it will appeal the decision.

Elsewhere in the sector, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) fell 0.13%, while CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) slipped 0.7%. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) rose 0.10%, while Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) increased 0.17%.

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Walmart Falls 3%

- Walmart (NYSE:WMT) fell by 3.01% to trade at $99.13 by 11:23 (16:23 GMT) on Wednesday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of Walmart shares traded since the start of the session was 6.52M. Walmart has traded in a range of $99.11 to $102.34 on the day.

The stock has traded at $104.1300 at its highest and $95.6400 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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U.S. Dollar Flat as Investors Wait for Fed Minutes

- The greenback was flat on Wednesday, as investors waited for the Federal Reserve to release the minutes from its latest monetary meeting.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.06% to 96.292 as of 11:05 AM ET (16:05 GMT).

The Fed will release the minutes from its Jan. 30 policy meeting at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT) Wednesday. Investors will pore over the minutes for further details on the central bank dropping its previous guidance about the likelihood of further interest rate increases.

Central bank officials have indicated that the rate is likely to remain steady for now. On Tuesday, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she was in favor of ending the balance sheet wind-down this year, while at the same time saying official interest rates are more likely to go up than down.

U.S.-China trade talks also remain in focus, with meetings continuing this week, even as U.S. President Donald Trump restated that he would consider pushing back the March 1 deadline, when tariffs on Chinese goods increase to 25% from 10%.

The dollar was up against the safe-haven yen, with USD/JPY gaining 0.11% to 110.73. The yen is typically sought by investors as a safe haven during times of economic or market stress.

Elsewhere, the pound was up slightly, with GBP/USD, rising 0.03% to 1.3064 after Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell was reported by Bloomberg as saying the “the accord is being hammered out now.”

The euro was higher, with EUR/USD up 0.08% to 1.1349.

In Australia, the AUD/USD inched up 0.08% to 0.7168, while NZD/USD fell 0.19% to 0.6869, retreating from earlier gains from rising dairy prices.

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Turkey stocks higher at close of trade; BIST 100 up 0.23%

– Turkey stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Leasing&Factoring, Food&Beverages and Wood, Paper&Printing sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Istanbul, the BIST 100 rose 0.23%.

The best performers of the session on the BIST 100 were Albaraka Turk Katilim Bankasi AS (IS:ALBRK), which rose 12.22% or 0.220 points to trade at 2.020 at the close. Meanwhile, Goltas Goller Bolgesi Cimento Sanayi ve Ticaret AS (IS:GOLTS) added 7.53% or 0.84 points to end at 12.00 and Turk Telekomunikasyon AS (IS:TTKOM) was up 5.00% or 0.26 points to 5.46 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Cemas Dokum Sanayi AS (IS:CEMAS), which fell 3.61% or 0.030 points to trade at 0.800 at the close. Ihlas Holding AS (IS:IHLAS) declined 3.03% or 0.010 points to end at 0.320 and Eregli Demir ve Celik Fabrikalari TAS (IS:EREGL) was down 2.76% or 0.250 points to 8.800.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Istanbul Stock Exchange by 210 to 139 and 58 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.23% or 3.15 to $1347.95 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.31% or 0.74 to hit $57.19 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.59% or 0.39 to trade at $66.84 a barrel.

USD/TRY was up 0.86% to 5.3257, while EUR/TRY rose 0.94% to 6.0444.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.05% at 96.297.

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DuPont Rises 3%

- DuPont (NYSE:DWDP) rose by 3.10% to trade at $56.28 by 10:44 (15:44 GMT) on Wednesday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of DuPont shares traded since the start of the session was 2.41M. DuPont has traded in a range of $54.47 to $56.28 on the day.

The stock has traded at $56.2800 at its highest and $51.8000 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Altria Rises 3%

- Altria (NYSE:MO) rose by 3.03% to trade at $50.48 by 10:34 (15:34 GMT) on Wednesday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of Altria shares traded since the start of the session was 2.36M. Altria has traded in a range of $49.15 to $50.50 on the day.

The stock has traded at $50.4900 at its highest and $48.3400 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Stocks - Wall Street Mixed After Earnings, Trade Talk Caution

- Wall Street was mixed on Wednesday amid downbeat earnings releases and as investors waited for news of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The S&P 500 fell half a point, or 0.02%, as of 9:44 AM ET (14:44 GMT), while the Dow gained 1 point, or 0.01%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite increased 10 points, or 0.14%.

A fresh round of talks began on Tuesday in Washington, with higher-level discussions scheduled for later this week. U.S. President Donald Trump repeated Tuesday that he would consider extending the March 1 deadline, when tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to rise to 25% from the current 10% if a deal is not reached.

"A market-friendly outcome this week will be for both sides to agree on extending the March 1 deadline, which should provide more time for finding a middle ground on trade policy," FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga wrote in a client note. "Trump stating that the talks are 'very complex' and the current March deadline is not a 'magical date', (means) a breakthrough deal is still some distance away."

US Global Investors (NASDAQ:GROW) was among the top gainers after the morning bell, rising 3%, while Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) gained 0.75% and Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) increased 1.15%.

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) slumped 8.9% after it missed its full-year profit forecast, while Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) dipped 4.6% after it cuts its first-quarter forecast for revenue per seat mile amid weak passenger demand.

LendingClub (NYSE:LC) fell 10.8% after the online lender said it expected a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss due to economic uncertainty.

On the central banking front, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its Jan. 30 policy meeting at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT) Wednesday. Investors will pore over the minutes for further details on the bank’s pause in rate hikes.

In commodities, gold futures rose 0.17% to $1,347.15 a troy ounce, while crude oil fell 0.39% to $56.23 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, inched up 0.10% to 96.44.

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Crypto - Bitcoin Edges Back Down Below $4k as SEC Countdown Begins

-- Bitcoin prices inched back down on Wednesday, after breaching $4,000 for the first time in six weeks on hopes that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is getting closer to approving investment vehicles that would broaden the asset's appeal.

The SEC confirmed Wednesday that it has received a formal request to approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund designed by VanEck/SolidX.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), the exchange applying for the listing, had withdrawn its application for a rule change on the ETF, then resubmitted it at the end of January.

The latest notice means the SEC is now required to make a decision on whether or not to allow the ETF to launch within 90 days. A preliminary decision is foreseen within 45 days. A similar ETF proposal filed by Bitwise Asset Management was published by the SEC last week.

Enthusiasts are hoping that the new proposals can satisfy the concerns expressed by the SEC last year, when it rejected multiple ETF proposals.

Bitcoin slipped 0.4% to $3,953.60 as of 8:50 AM ET (13:50 GMT) on the Index.

Cryptocurrencies overall were higher, rising to $135 billion at the time of writing, compared to $133 billion on Tuesday.

Ethereum fell 0.5% to $147.24. XRP slumped 3.8% to $0.3283 while Litecoin was at $50.826, up 4.1%.

In other news, Elon Musk supported digital currencies in an interview on advisory services firm ARK Invest’s podcast.

“Bitcoin’s structure is quite brilliant,” he said, adding that virtual currencies are “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.”

But he also noted that “one of the downsides of crypto is that computationally it is quite energy-intensive.”

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Oil Prices Slip from 2019 Highs, Eyes on Surging U.S. Output

- Oil prices pulled back from three-month highs on Wednesday as focus shifted to surging U.S. crude production and the market waited for the latest data on weekly U.S. inventories.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 26 cents, or 0.46%, to $56.19 a barrel by 7:36 AM ET (12:36 GMT), after touching $56.77 earlier, its highest level since November of last year.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded down 36 cents, or 0.54%, to $66.09, backing off of $68.83 reached on Monday which was also its highest since November.

U.S. crude output, which soared by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 to a record 11.9 million bpd, is set to keep rising thanks to booming shale oil production, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday in a monthly report. It said shale output will rise by some 84,000 bpd in March to a new record of 8.4 million bpd.

“Shale oil is setting new production records, threatening the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries with another showdown that could upend the market as U.S. crude prices cross $55 per barrel,” analyst Barani Krishnan warned.

BNP Paribas shared a similar view, predicting a downturn in prices toward the end of the year.

“U.S. oil production growth, driven by shale, will be increasingly exported in greater volumes to international markets while the global economy is expected to witness a synchronized slowdown in growth,” the bank said.

Amid concerns over market rebalancing, attention is set to turn to weekly data on U.S. crude inventories.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report later on Wednesday with official government data out a day later amid expectations for a build of 3.1 million barrels.

Thursday’s report from the EIA will also include the latest reading on U.S. production.

Both reports come out one day later than normal due to Monday's holiday.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures fell 0.24% to $1.5600 a gallon by 7:38 AM ET (12:38 GMT), while heating oil declined 0.40% to $1.9867 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures rose 0.79% to $2.683 per million British thermal unit.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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Henry Schein Earnings beat, Revenue misses In Q4

- Henry Schein (NASDAQ:HSIC) reported fourth quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Wednesday and revenue that fell short of forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $1.12 on revenue of $3.38B. Analysts polled by anticipated EPS of $0.88 on revenue of $3.46B. That compared to EPS of $0.97 on revenue of $3.32B in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $1.03 on revenue of $3.28B in the previous quarter.

Henry Schein follows other major Healthcare sector earnings this month


On January 22, J&J reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.97 on revenue of $20.39B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.95 on revenue of $20.2B.

Pfizer earnings beat analyst's expectations on January 29, with fourth quarter EPS of $0.64 on revenue of $13.98B. analysts expected EPS of $0.63 on revenue of $13.9B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Stocks - U.S. Futures Dip as Investors Remain Cautious on Trade Talks

- U.S. futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Wall Street Wednesday, with investors remaining cautious as trade talks between the U.S. and China continued.

Markets remained wary after U.S. President Donald Trump repeated Tuesday that he would consider extending the March 1 deadline, when tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to rise to 25% from the current 10% if a deal is not reached.

A fresh round of talks began on Tuesday in Washington with higher-level discussion scheduled for later this week.

The S&P 500 futures fell 3 points or 0.11% as of 6:58 AM ET (11:58 GMT) while Dow futures slipped 38 points or 0.15% and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures decreased 5 points or 0.07%.

Earnings were also in focus, ahead of results from CVS Health (NYSE:CVS), The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE), and Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ:CAR).

PG&E Corp (NYSE:PCG) was among the top gainers in premarket trading, rising 3.2% after Citi upgraded its stock, while Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) inched up 0.4% and Perrigo (NYSE:PRGO) gained 0.7%.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) slumped 2.8% after it cancelled hundreds of flights due to mechanical problems. CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) fell 1.7% while LendingClub (NYSE:LC) decreased 7%.

On the central banking front, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its Jan. 30 policy meeting at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT) Wednesday. Investors will pour over the minutes for further details on the bank’s pause in rate hikes.

In commodities, gold futures rose 0.15% to $1,346.75 a troy ounce, while crude oil slipped 0.58% to $56.12 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, ticked up to 96.42.

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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Wednesday

- Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, Feb. 20:

1. Fed minutes expected to cement dovish about face, U.S. dollar on hold

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its Jan. 30 policy meeting at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT) Wednesday. Markets are expecting the details to cement the central bank’s promise to be patient with further interest rate hikes.

More interesting for the market may be what the minutes reveal about the Fed's plans for reducing its balance sheet further.

“Quantitative tightening, which Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell likes to refer to as ‘balance sheet runoff’, is no longer on autopilot,” analyst Darrell Delamaide said.

The minutes are expected to confirm the dovish outlook, and that's keeping a lid on the U.S. dollar ahead of the release. At 5:54 AM ET (11:54 GMT), the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell ovenight and was largely unchanged 0.03% at 96.38.

2. Global stocks show mixed trade as U.S.-China talks persist

Global stocks were mixed on Wednesday with U.S. futures leaning towards caution as U.S.-China trade talks continued in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that discussions were going well and suggested he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying March 1 was not a "magical" date.

March 1 is the current deadline for the U.S. to push tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from the current 10% if a deal is not reached. A renewed round of talks began on Tuesday in Washington with higher-level discussion scheduled for later this week.

“The overall feeling is that it is one step forward, three-quarters of a step back at the moment. So positive momentum but still fragile,” Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn)'s chief strategist Jim Reid said.

Trump’s comments, coupled with positive results from retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT), were enough to push Wall Street higher on Tuesday and send Asian shares to a four-month high overnight.

European stocks also joined in with the pan-European Stoxx 600 up 0.2%.

After Tuesday’s positive close, Wall Street adopted a more cautious stance with U.S. futures largely flat. At 5:55 AM ET (10:55 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures slipped 21 points, or 0.08%, S&P 500 futures edged down 2 points, or 0.07%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures were unchanged.

3. Earnings focus on consumers

With nearly 400 of the S&P 500 firms having released earnings for the fourth-quarter reporting period, the focus for Wednesday will shift to consumer-oriented stocks.

Following a strong beat by Walmart a day earlier, some of the companies stepping up to bat are:

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS). The consensus estimate of analysts polled by is for a profit of $2.09 a share on revenue of $54.6 billion. Shares fell 21% between their summer peak and December and are up 11% since.

Car-rental company Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ:CAR) is seen reporting earnings of 38 cents a share on revenue of $2.05 billion, according to estimates compiled by . The shares lost half their value between March and December. They're up a third from the December bottom.

The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE). The restaurant chain is expected to report a profit of 62 cents a share on revenue of $592.9 million. The shares fell 31% between a July peak to December and are up 11% since.

4. Oil drops from 2019 highs as U.S. output rears its head

Oil prices dropped on Wednesday, pulling back from 2019 highs, as attention shifted from OPEC-led production cuts to worries over the surge in U.S. output.

U.S. crude oil futures fell 15 cents, or 0.27%, to $56.30 by 5:56 AM ET (10:56 GMT), while Brent oil traded down 29 cents, or 0.44%, to $66.16.

U.S. crude output, which soared by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 to a record 11.9 million bpd, is set to keep rising thanks to booming shale oil production, the Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.

After oil hit its highest level since last November this week, traders have taken a breather amid fears that surging shale output could stop the market rebalancing.

Read more: OPEC’s Nemesis, Shale Oil, Is Back, Setting New Production Records - Barani Krishnan

Attention is set to turn to weekly data on U.S. crude inventories. The American Petroleum Institute will release its report later on Wednesday with official government data out a day later amid expectations for a build of 3.1 million barrels. Both reports come out one day later than normal due to Monday's holiday.

Thursday’s report will also include the latest reading on U.S. production.

5. U.K. and EU to meet as Brexit impasse drags on

Not to be forgotten on the other side of the Atlantic, negotiations over the U.K.’s pending departure from the European Union drag on with few hopes for progress amid the current political impasse.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later on Wednesday. Recent talks have yielded little progress since the British Parliament resoundingly defeated a divorce deal she had agreed to with the bloc back in November.

May’s spokesperson dubbed the meeting to be a “significant” part of the process although Juncker remained skeptical when speaking of the planned encounter:

“There is not enough movement for me to be able to assume that it will be a productive discussion,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

At 5:57 AM ET (10:57 GMT), the British pound was down 0.21% at 1.3033.

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Dollar Weakens Ahead of Fed Minutes; Sterling up on Brexit Hopes

-- The dollar was lower against the euro and the British pound in early trading in Europe Wednesday as a fall in U.S. Treasury yields reduced its attractiveness amid expectations of dovish news on interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

Bond yields are under pressure from economic data that have tended towards the weak side in recent days. The 10-year benchmark Treasury yield has fallen to 2.64% from 2.80% over the last month, amid uncertainty over how far the Federal Reserve can afford to tighten monetary policy.

Such uncertainty puts a special focus Wednesday on the release of the minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting, where the U.S. central bank pivoted to a more neutral and data-dependent stance, dropping its previous guidance about the likelihood of further interest rate increases.

Traders will be looking too for hints about how far and how fast the Fed intends to reduce its balance sheet. Loretta Mester, the Cleveland Fed President, said Tuesday that she was in favor of ending the balance sheet wind-down this year, an outcome that would leave a substantial amount of crisis-era liquidity in the system, capping any rise in market interest rates. At the same time, she said official interest rates were still more likely to go up than down.

At 03:20 AM ET (0820 GMT), the dollar index that measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies was at 96.333, down over half a percent from its overnight high. The euro was close to a one-week high at $1.1351 after German producer price inflation data for January came in higher than expected.

The pound was higher against both dollarand euro after a report that Prime Minister Theresa May would drop efforts to push the so-called “Malthouse Compromise” – an attempt to break the deadlock over the status of the Irish border after Brexit. EU officials had indicated it was unacceptable. May is due to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later Wednesday in Brussels.

Overnight, the Chinese yuan had rallied around 0.5% against the dollar to 6.7227 after Bloomberg reported that the U.S. would use the ongoing trade talks to seek a commitment from China not to devalue it.

The Aussie and Kiwi were both a touch weaker amid a lack of major news.

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U.S. Dollar Little Changed Before Fed’s Policy Meeting Minutes

- The U.S. dollar was little changed on Wednesday in Asia as traders await the minutes from the January U.S. Federal Reserve meeting due later in the day.

The central bank, at its Jan. 30 meeting, held rates steady and said it will be patient on further rate hikes.

“First, (the Fed) effectively ruled out any rate increases this year,” ’s Darrell Delamaide said. “Now the message coming across is that the Fed won’t be shrinking its balance sheet much more than it has already and will keep it at fairly elevated levels.”

“It may even keep quantitative easing -- purchasing bonds with money created out of thin air -- as a new tool for monetary policy rather than just an emergency measure.”

The U.S. dollar index last traded at 96.393 by 1:37 AM ET (06:37 GMT), up 0.05%.

Meanwhile, the USD/JPY pair was up 0.2% at 110.84. The Japanese currency received a lift on Tuesday after Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda told the Japanese parliament that the central bank would consider additional easing if a stronger yen threatens to depress prices and activity.

"The BOJ does not really have a lot of options left even if it wanted to act. But the global trend -starting with the United States, Europe and Australia- is moving toward central bank dovishness and the BOJ's stance is in line with the trend," said Koji Fukaya, president of FPG Securities, in a Reuters report.

The USD/CNY pair lost 0.4% at 6.7258. The pair is likely to trade in ranges, Westpac analyst Frances Cheung said in a note that was cited by FXStreet.

“USD/CNY is likely to trade in ranges, with upside risk as we remain cautious towards the development of U.S.-China trade relations," Cheung said.

Another round of trade talks between China and the U.S. began this week in Washington, after the last meeting ended with no deal. Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump said the talks with China are going “very well.”

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Australia stocks lower at close of trade; S&P/ASX 200 down 0.17%

– Australia stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Consumer Staples, Utilities and A-REITs sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.17%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/ASX 200 were Corporate Travel Managment Ltd (AX:CTD), which rose 14.69% or 3.690 points to trade at 28.810 at the close. Meanwhile, Emeco Holdings Ltd (AX:EHL) added 13.62% or 0.290 points to end at 2.420 and Bingo Industries Ltd (AX:BIN) was up 12.35% or 0.150 points to 1.365 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Pact Group Holdings Ltd (AX:PGH), which fell 17.04% or 0.530 points to trade at 2.580 at the close. Mcmillan Shakespeare Ltd (AX:MMS) declined 12.77% or 1.860 points to end at 12.700 and Wisetech Global Ltd (AX:WTC) was down 10.09% or 2.360 points to 21.030.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Sydney Stock Exchange by 595 to 547 and 355 ended unchanged.

Shares in Pact Group Holdings Ltd (AX:PGH) fell to all time lows; down 17.04% or 0.530 to 2.580. Shares in Mcmillan Shakespeare Ltd (AX:MMS) fell to 52-week lows; falling 12.77% or 1.860 to 12.700.

The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was down 1.72% to 12.413.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.05% or 0.65 to $1345.45 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.14% or 0.08 to hit $56.53 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract fell 0.09% or 0.06 to trade at $66.39 a barrel.

AUD/USD was down 0.03% to 0.7160, while AUD/JPY rose 0.20% to 79.39.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.06% at 96.405.

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Canada stocks higher at close of trade; S&P/TSX Composite up 0.63%

– Canada stocks were higher after the close on Tuesday, as gains in the Materials, IT and Energy sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite gained 0.63% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/TSX Composite were Pretium Resources Inc. (TO:PVG), which rose 11.06% or 1.06 points to trade at 10.64 at the close. Meanwhile, Bombardier Inc (TO:BBDb) added 10.40% or 0.260 points to end at 2.760 and Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TO:TRQ) was up 9.78% or 0.220 points to 2.470 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were CCL Industries Inc (TO:CCLb), which fell 4.23% or 2.51 points to trade at 56.87 at the close. Superior Plus Corp (TO:SPB) declined 4.18% or 0.49 points to end at 11.23 and Cameco Corp (TO:CCO) was down 4.17% or 0.68 points to 15.64.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Toronto Stock Exchange by 762 to 366 and 102 ended unchanged.

The S&P/TSX 60 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/TSX Composite options, was down 2.15% to 14.10 a new 3-months low.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 1.66% or 21.95 to $1344.05 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.79% or 0.44 to hit $56.42 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.03% or 0.02 to trade at $66.49 a barrel.

CAD/USD was down 0.02% to 0.7569, while CAD/EUR rose 0.00% to 0.6674.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.40% at 96.355.

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Day Ahead: Top 3 Things to Watch

- Here’s a preview of the top 3 things that could rock markets tomorrow.

1. Fed Releasing Meeting Minutes

Tomorrow the Federal Open Market Committee will release the minutes from its last rate-setting meeting.

The minutes arrive at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT), and the market will be looking for more detail on just how patient the Fed intends to be with its rate hike plan.

There will also be interest in any comments on the balance sheet.

The Fed is close to wrapping up its quantitative tightening program, ’s Darrell Delamaide wrote.

“First, (the Fed) effectively ruled out any rate increases this year,” Delamaide said. “Now the message coming across is that the Fed won’t be shrinking its balance sheet much more than it has already and will keep it at fairly elevated levels.”

“It may even keep quantitative easing -- purchasing bonds with money created out of thin air -- as a new tool for monetary policy rather than just an emergency measure.”

The market is pricing in rates staying on hold this year, according to ’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool.

2. Theresa May Parlays With the EU

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is going to Brussels to try to minimize the pain of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.

Her office says it will be a significant meeting. European Union President Jean-Claude Junker was openly skeptical much would come from the meeting, set for Wednesday evening.

Among the biggest concerns is whether the U.K. and EU-member Ireland can avoid a hard border stop, meaning goods won't be able to flow freely between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The FTSE index was off 0.6% on Tuesday and is off 0.8% this week. That said, the index is up 6.7% this year.

3. The Earnings Parade Carries On

Wednesday's earnings reports will have a consumer-oriented theme, coming after Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) fourth-quarter results beat on top and bottom lines.

Some of the companies reporting include:

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS). The consensus estimate of analysts polled by is that the company will report a profit of $2.09 a share on revenue of $54.6 billion. Shares fell 21% between their summer peak and December and are up 11% since.

Car-rental company Avis Budget Group (NASDAQ:CAR) is seen reporting earnings of 38 cents a share on revenue of $2.05 billion, according to estimates compiled by . The shares lost half their value between March and December. They're up a third from the December bottom.

The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE). The restaurant chain is expected to report a profit of 62 cents a share on revenue of $592.9 million. The shares fell 31% between a July peak to December and are up 11% since.

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Can IBM Shares Continue Their Roll?

- It may shock, but IBM (NYSE:IBM) shares are on something of a roll. The question is how long the roll will last.

The stock is up 21% this year, second among the 30 stocks in the Dow. Boeing (NYSE:BA) is tops, in part because Airbus Group (PA:AIR) is struggling and because traders are betting a U.S.-China trade deal will get done.

But IBM? This is a stock that fell 25% in 2018 and 7.6% in 2017 and has struggled to show revenue growth for years.

Maybe IBM has a few things going for it.

Most important is that, for now, investors seem willing to wait to see if CEO Ginni Rometty's bet on building a real cloud business comes to fruition. The business has been growing, but maybe not as quickly as some investors want. Revenue for the business grew 12% in the fourth quarter to $19.2 billion.

But IBM faces intense competition from players like Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Amazon Web Services, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Azure business and Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Cloud Platform.

The key is IBM's pending $34 billion acquisition of open-source cloud developer Red Hat (NYSE:RHT), expected in the latter half of the year. It's seen as the big fuel for the cloud business.

Add to that continued investments in analytics and artificial intelligence.

And IBM has real and long-standing relationships with the biggest players in the financial services industry that at least provides stable service revenue.

The stock began the year on the cheap side after hitting a 52-week low of $105.84 during the December market meltdown. Even now, its $1.57-a-share quarterly dividend represents a 4.6% yield, compared with the S&P 500's yield of about 2%. And the dividend doesn't seem to be at risk.

Technical indicators mostly rate the stock a buy. Its relative strength index, a measure of a stock's momentum, is about 60. A reading above 75 suggests it's overbought and vulnerable to a selloff.

But the proof ultimately will be real results, which may explain why the stock's up 2.7% in February, about even with the S&P 500 but trailing the Dow's 3.7% gain.

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Palladium King Again With New Record High Over Gold

By Barani Krishnan

- The crown moves over again to the white metal.

Palladium, used as a precious metal in jewelry since 1939 as an alternative to platinum in the alloys called white gold -- and more importantly, in recent years, as an emissions purifier and catalyts in gasoline-powered cars -- hit record highs of nearly $1,500 an ounce on Tuesday.

Gold moved higher as well, hitting 10-month peaks on the back of a weaker dollar and global growth worries. But the yellow metal traded at a discount of nearly $150 an ounce to palladium.

Spot palladium shot up by $24, or 1.6%, to 1,483.70 per ounce by 2:32 PM ET (19:32 GMT), after reaching a peak of $1,490.65 to remain the world's most valuable traded metal.

Spot gold, reflective of trades in physical bullion, rose by $13.52, or 1%, to $1,339.78 per ounce.

Spot platinum climbed rose by $13.55, or 1.7%, to $820 per ounce.

In futures trading, gold's benchmark April contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled up $22.70, or 1.7%, at $1,344.80 per ounce.

Palladium also moved further north of platinum, with its ratio to its sister metal rising to 1.7, well above levels at which auto catalyst producers would be willing to switch between the two metals, those who track the industry say. Platinum is an exhaust purifier and catalyst for diesel-powered cars, sales of which have fallen since Volkswagen's (DE:VOWG_p) emissions-rigging scandal in 2015.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC) said in a note that it expected palladium to go even higher but warned investors to "get ready for more volatility".

It added that while substitution toward platinum may happen, "it can be slow to evolve, also because it takes time to re-engineer catalysts".

Inventories of palladium in warehouses in Switzerland, typically the residual palladium market, are well below the highs seen a few years ago. Similarly, stocks at Chicago Mercantile Exchange warehouses have drawn for years and are now depleted.

Tight supplies have led to the remarkable anomaly of falling assets under management at physically backed ETFs at the same time as prices rallied. Sticking with inventories, top palladium producer Norilsk Nickel has also managed its stockpiles diligently, preventing a glut.

Trades in other Comex metals as of 3:23 PM ET (20:23 GMT):

Palladium futures up $51.85, or 3.7%, at $1,459.05 per ounce.

Silver futures up 22 cents, or 1.4%, at $15.97 per ounce.

Platinum futures up $14.90, or 1.9%, at $821.80 per ounce.

Copper futures up 7.4 cents, or 2.7%, at $2.87 per pound.

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Dollar Slides as Sterling Shines on Strong Jobs Data, Brexit Hopes

– The U.S. dollar slipped against a basket of major currencies Tuesday, pressured by strength in the pound on strong labor market data and hopes for progress on upcoming Brexit talks.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell 0.45% to 96.30.

USD/GBP rose 1.03% to $1.3054 as the U.K. unemployment rate remained at record lows, while wage growth of 3.4% for December missed economist expectations.

The pound was also propped up by expectations for progress on Brexit talks, even as EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said a lack of signs on the Brexit progress would likely stifle talks with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.

"I am meeting Mrs. May tomorrow evening, and there is not enough movement for me to be able to assume that it will be a productive discussion," Juncker said.

EUR/USD rose 0.36% as a German investor confidence improved to its highest level in five months in February, according to survey data from the ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

USD/JPY fell 0.04% to Y110.56 after Bank of Japan governor Kuroda told Japanese parliament that the central bank would consider additional easing should a stronger yen threaten to depress prices and activity.

USD/CAD fell 0.20% to C$1.3213.

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Trade Deal Hopes Support Oil, Despite Rally Being Stretched

- Hedge funds chasing the upside in oil are watching a potential trade deal and the stock market, despite signs that U.S. crude at closer to $60 a barrel could also bring new shale supply.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude traded at around three-month highs on Tuesday as Wall Street's three main stock indexes stayed in positive territory on hopes that the U.S. and China will hammer out a deal to end their protracted trade war.

U.K. traded Brent, the global oil benchmark, was slightly lower after tanker loadings showed Iran's crude exports were higher than expected in January and at least holding steady this month, as some customers increased purchases on waivers from U.S. sanctions. Iranian oil shipments are averaging 1.25 million barrels per day (bpd) in February, higher than estimated earlier, Reuters reported.

WTI was up 32 cents, or 0.6%, at $56.30 per barrel by 1:16 PM ET (18:15 GMT).

Brent, the global oil benchmark, was down 30 cents, or 0.5%, at $66.20 per barrel.

"If anything, the price action today leans a bit bearish to me as we have lost the support of products and Brent with weaker products spreads and weaker Brent spreads," said Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at ICAP (LON:NXGN) in Durham, N.C.

"The question is, will the market care about any of this as the flows have switched to buying on the CTA side," Shelton said, referring to Commodity Trading Advisors, the market terminology for hedge funds.

Year to date, WTI is up about 23%, having risen around $14 a barrel from Christmas Eve lows of under $43. Brent is up 22% on the year, rising some $12 barrel from its Dec. 24 bottom.

Much of the rally in oil is the result of production cuts by Saudi Arabia, which has been slashing output more aggressively than it committed since December to salvage a market that lost 40% of its value in the fourth quarter of last year. In January, Saudi output fell to 10.213 million barrels per day versus a pledged 10.3 million bpd.

Up until now, the Saudis have been targeting their production cuts on the heavier oils they ship to the United States.

But a Reuters report on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia also plans to reduce light crude oil supplies to Asian customers for cargoes loading in March in an attempt to prevent Asian stockpiles of light crude from building. In the past, the Saudis did not limit providing their Asian customers supplies of Arab Extra Light crude above contractual volumes.

The Saudi move to cover more bases with their production cuts could, however, eat into their prized market share in Asia, especially if U.S. producers encroach into that turf.

Boosting the significance of U.S. crude production, Indian Oil Corporation said it has signed a $1.5 billion deal to buy oil from the United States in an effort to reduce dependence on traditional suppliers.

This was the first term contract finalized by an Indian oil company for import of U.S.-origin crude grades, the IOC said in a statement on Monday. Interestingly just a day before Saudi Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman was to begin his visit of India.

Some traders also point to the likelihood of U.S. shale production ramping again in coming months with WTI nearing $60 per barrel.

Last week, the U.S. oil rig count published by Baker Hughes rose for a second week in a row after falling to a nine-month low of 847 at the end of January.

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France stocks lower at close of trade; CAC 40 down 0.15%

– France stocks were lower after the close on Tuesday, as losses in the Utilities, Oil&Gas and Gas&Water sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Paris, the CAC 40 lost 0.15%, while the SBF 120 index lost 0.17%.

The best performers of the session on the CAC 40 were Valeo SA (PA:VLOF), which rose 1.76% or 0.47 points to trade at 27.16 at the close. Meanwhile, Peugeot SA (PA:PEUP) added 0.94% or 0.20 points to end at 21.57 and Veolia Environnement VE SA (PA:VIE) was up 0.76% or 0.145 points to 19.300 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Bouygues SA (PA:BOUY), which fell 1.38% or 0.43 points to trade at 30.82 at the close. WFD Unibail Rodamco NV (AS:URW) declined 1.09% or 1.58 points to end at 143.54 and STMicroelectronics NV (PA:STM) was down 1.03% or 0.150 points to 14.480.

The top performers on the SBF 120 were Genfit (PA:GNFT) which rose 12.36% to 20.540, DBV Technologies (PA:DBV) which was up 3.67% to settle at 13.570 and Trigano (PA:TRIA) which gained 3.04% to close at 88.15.

The worst performers were Vallourec (PA:VLLP) which was down 5.17% to 1.680 in late trade, Maisons du Monde SAS (PA:MDM) which lost 3.36% to settle at 23.620 and Worldline SA (PA:WLN) which was down 3.12% to 52.700 at the close.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Paris Stock Exchange by 312 to 258 and 94 ended unchanged.

The CAC 40 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of CAC 40 options, was down 2.09% to 14.60.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 1.68% or 22.25 to $1344.35 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.46% or 0.26 to hit $56.24 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract fell 0.59% or 0.39 to trade at $66.11 a barrel.

EUR/USD was up 0.36% to 1.1348, while EUR/GBP fell 0.69% to 0.8688.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.45% at 96.308.

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U.K. stocks lower at close of trade; Investing.com United Kingdom 100 down 0.54%

– U.K. stocks were lower after the close on Tuesday, as losses in the Banking, Oil Equipment Services&Distribution and Electronic&Electrical Equipment sectors led shares lower.

At the close in London, the United Kingdom 100 fell 0.54%.

The best performers of the session on the United Kingdom 100 were Micro Focus International PLC (LON:MCRO), which rose 3.63% or 63.50 points to trade at 1812.00 at the close. Meanwhile, Tui AG (LON:TUIT) added 3.25% or 26.80 points to end at 852.80 and Coca Cola HBC AG (LON:CCH) was up 2.69% or 69.0 points to 2633.0 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA), which fell 4.01% or 26.60 points to trade at 637.10 at the close. Mediclinic International PLC (LON:MDCM) declined 2.82% or 9.00 points to end at 310.60 and BAE Systems PLC (LON:BAES) was down 2.52% or 13.20 points to 511.60.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the London Stock Exchange by 1187 to 855 and 337 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 1.64% or 21.65 to $1343.75 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.71% or 0.40 to hit $56.38 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract fell 0.47% or 0.31 to trade at $66.19 a barrel.

GBP/USD was up 1.07% to 1.3059, while EUR/GBP fell 0.65% to 0.8691.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.46% at 96.297.

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Papa John’s Stumbles Midday on Price War Worries

- Shares of Papa John’s fell midday following an analyst downgrade on concerns the pizza chain is ill-equipped to face a current price war.

Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA) stock fell 2.8% in midday trading.

Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the stock to sell from hold and issued a price target of $35 to $38, according to Briefing.com. Shares are currently trading around $44.

The chief reason from the downgrade is that Papa John’s is likely to have to continue discounting and promotions, which will hurt its “already low profitability,” Stifel said.

Also in the sector, Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) fell 1%, while Pizza Hut operator Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) rose 0.5%.

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Gold Prices Rise to Fresh 9-Month Highs Ahead of Fed Minutes

- Gold prices moved higher on Tuesday as investors waited for the publication of the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting with expectations for them to confirm the central bank’s dovish policy stance.

At 10:37 AM ET (15:37 GMT), gold futures for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $18.25, or 1.38%, to $1,340.25 a troy ounce, its best level since May 14.

At 2:00PM ET (19:00 GMT), the Fed will release the minutes of the Jan. 30 meeting when it left interest rates on hold and pledged to be patient with further interest rate hikes, dropping its guidance that “further gradual” rate rises will be needed.

The central bank also said it could alter the pace of its balance sheet reduction “in light of economic and financial developments”.

analyst Darrell Delamaide commented that policymakers are reaching a consensus after reversing course 180 degrees.

“Quantitative tightening, which Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell likes to refer to as ‘balance sheet runoff’, is no longer on autopilot,” he affirmed.

The dovish shift in tone to the Fed’s message implies a longer pause in rate hikes, which in turn decreases the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing gold.

In other metals trading, palladium futures pressed higher as predictions that demand will rise this year as stricter emissions standards pump demand for the metal used in catalytic converters. At 10:40 AM ET (15:40 GMT), the metal gained 3.24% to $1,452.75 an ounce, a new record high.

“In combination with supply-side issues, the market is going to be in a sizeable deficit this year ... potential for better-than-expected demand from China will exacerbate that tightness,” ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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Oil Prices Retreat from 3-Month Highs, Next Round of Trade Talks in Focus

- Oil prices pulled back from three-month highs on Tuesday, as investors awaited news from the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 24 cents, or 0.43%, at $55.74 a barrel by 9:30 AM ET (14:30 GMT), after hitting $56.73 a day earlier, its best level since November of last year.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded down 83 cents, or 1.25%, to $65.67. Monday’s peak of $66.83 was also its best level since last November.

A new round of U.S.-Sino trade talks kicked off in Washington on Tuesday with further sessions amid higher level officials expected later in the week.

The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies has been widely blamed for a lack of business confidence, hindering growth amid the uncertainty and taking its toll on the outlook for oil demand. The World Trade Organization warned on Tuesday that its quarterly leading indicator for global trade had slumped to its lowest reading in nine years and would likely fall further if tensions continued.

But investors were optimistic after comments from officials that last week’s negotiations in Beijing had resulted in progress on major sticking points between the two parties.

“The market is slowly regaining its bullish footing, subject to the perception of economic risks tied to U.S.-China trade talks," Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas, said.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures fell 0.89% to $1.5589 a gallon by 9:33 AM ET (14:33 GMT), while heating oil declined 1.29% to $1.9942 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures edged forward 0.11% to $2.628 per million British thermal unit.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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Walmart Rises 3%

- Walmart (NYSE:WMT) rose by 3.42% to trade at $103.41 by 09:32 (14:32 GMT) on Tuesday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of Walmart shares traded since the start of the session was 2.15M. Walmart has traded in a range of $102.16 to $103.50 on the day.

The stock has traded at $103.5100 at its highest and $95.1400 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Stellar Climbs 10% As Investors Gain Confidence

- Stellar was trading at $0.09054 by 07:51 (12:51 GMT) on the Index on Tuesday, up 10.09% on the day. It was the largest one-day percentage gain since December 28, 2018.

The move upwards pushed Stellar's market cap up to $1.69827B, or 1.27% of the total cryptocurrency market cap. At its highest, Stellar's market cap was $12.12000B.

Stellar had traded in a range of $0.08269 to $0.09054 in the previous twenty-four hours.

Over the past seven days, Stellar has seen a rise in value, as it gained 14.37%. The volume of Stellar traded in the twenty-four hours to time of writing was $145.53248M or 0.40% of the total volume of all cryptocurrencies. It has traded in a range of $0.0749 to $0.0905 in the past 7 days.

At its current price, Stellar is still down 90.16% from its all-time high of $0.92 set on January 3, 2018.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading

Bitcoin was last at $3,914.5 on the Index, up 3.79% on the day.

Ethereum was trading at $147.27 on the Index, a gain of 2.33%.

Bitcoin's market cap was last at $69.06586B or 51.58% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, while Ethereum's market cap totaled $15.52954B or 11.60% of the total cryptocurrency market value.

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EOS Climbs 14% In Rally

- EOS was trading at $3.6076 by 07:21 (12:21 GMT) on the Index on Tuesday, up 14.05% on the day. It was the largest one-day percentage gain since February 18.

The move upwards pushed EOS's market cap up to $3.2640B, or 2.44% of the total cryptocurrency market cap. At its highest, EOS's market cap was $17.5290B.

EOS had traded in a range of $3.4675 to $3.7990 in the previous twenty-four hours.

Over the past seven days, EOS has seen a rise in value, as it gained 28.82%. The volume of EOS traded in the twenty-four hours to time of writing was $2.3369B or 6.50% of the total volume of all cryptocurrencies. It has traded in a range of $2.7192 to $3.7990 in the past 7 days.

At its current price, EOS is still down 84.30% from its all-time high of $22.98 set on April 29, 2018.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading

Bitcoin was last at $3,914.0 on the Index, up 4.39% on the day.

Ethereum was trading at $147.65 on the Index, a gain of 4.91%.

Bitcoin's market cap was last at $68.8815B or 51.51% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, while Ethereum's market cap totaled $15.5279B or 11.61% of the total cryptocurrency market value.

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Stocks - U.S. Futures Drift Lower Amid Lull in Trade Talks

- U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Tuesday, as traders await fresh developments from the latest round of U.S.- China trade talks due to resume later in the day.

The S&P 500 futures were down around nine points as of 6:55 AM ET (11:45 GMT), while Dow futures were off 91 points and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures pointed to a drop of 20 points.

Markets are set to re-open on Tuesday after Monday’s holiday.

A new session of trade talks between the U.S. and China is to get underway in Washington Tuesday, with follow-up sessions at a higher level due to take place later in the week, the White House said on Monday.

The talks follow a round of negotiations that ended in Beijing last week without a deal but which officials said had resulted in progress.

U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25% from 10% if no deal is reached by March 1.

In earnings, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is one of the last notable names slated to report quarterly results, as the fourth-quarter earnings season winds down.

The retail giant is expected to post earnings of $1.33 per share on revenue of $138.81 billion for the three months to January 31, according to analysts polled by , when it reports before the opening bell.

U.S. same-store sales are expected to rise 3.0% from a year earlier

Other notable companies reporting results include, Advance Auto Parts, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), and Herbalife (NYSE:HLF)

In economic news, investors will be looking to the National Association of Home Builders housing market index at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT).

In commodities, gold futures advanced 0.72% to $1,331.6 a troy ounce, while crude oil was trading near three-month highs at $56.45 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.18% to 96.91.

- Reuters contributed to this report

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HSBC’s 2018 Profit Rises 16% But Misses Estimates

- HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA), Europe’s largest bank, reported on Tuesday that its 2018 net profit came in below expectations.

Reported pre-tax profit was $19.89 billion, up 15.9% from a year ago, the bank said in a statement. It was expected to record a 23.8% jump in pre-tax profit to $21.26 billion for the year.

The core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, fell to 14% at end-December from 14.5% at the end of 2017, HSBC said in the statement. The fall was mainly due to adverse foreign exchange movements, it noted.

The bank’s annual dividend remained unchanged from the year before at $0.51 per share.

"First of all, from the revenue side. I'm a little bit concerned about capital markets because, as we all know, in last year's fourth-quarter, sentiment and market conditions were not so good. So, capital markets or global markets as it's called in HSBC, the revenue may be under pressure," Kenny Wen, wealth management strategist at Hong Kong-based financial services firm Everbright Sun Hung Kai, told CNBC.

Hong Kong-listed shares in the bank dropped 2.3% by 12:30 AM ET (05:30 GMT) following the release of the results.

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Netherlands stocks higher at close of trade; AEX up 0.00%

– Netherlands stocks were higher after the close on Monday, as gains in the Basic Materials, Financials and Industrials sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Amsterdam, the AEX added 0.00% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the AEX were Altice NV (AS:ATCA), which rose 4.54% or 0.08 points to trade at 1.89 at the close. Meanwhile, Akzo Nobel NV (AS:AKZO) added 2.98% or 2.42 points to end at 83.50 and Koninklijke DSM NV (AS:DSMN) was up 2.10% or 1.98 points to 96.38 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Relx PLC (AS:REL), which fell 1.45% or 0.285 points to trade at 19.310 at the close. ASR Nederland NV (AS:ASRNL) declined 1.26% or 0.48 points to end at 37.74 and Randstad NV (AS:RAND) was down 1.11% or 0.52 points to 46.30.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange by 76 to 44 and 14 ended unchanged.

Shares in Akzo Nobel NV (AS:AKZO) rose to all time highs; rising 2.98% or 2.42 to 83.50. Shares in Koninklijke DSM NV (AS:DSMN) rose to all time highs; rising 2.10% or 1.98 to 96.38.

The AEX Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of AEX options, was up 2.40% to 13.61.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 0.88% or 0.49 to $56.47 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 0.33% or 0.22 to hit $66.47 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.15% or 2.00 to trade at $1329.70 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was up 0.16% to 1.1312, while EUR/GBP fell 0.06% to 0.8749.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.12% at 96.620.

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U.K. stocks lower at close of trade; Investing.com United Kingdom 100 down 0.30%

– U.K. stocks were lower after the close on Monday, as losses in the Tobacco, Pharmaceuticals&Biotech and General Industrial sectors led shares lower.

At the close in London, the United Kingdom 100 fell 0.30%.

The best performers of the session on the United Kingdom 100 were Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (LON:RB), which rose 4.64% or 279.00 points to trade at 6296.00 at the close. Meanwhile, Micro Focus International PLC (LON:MCRO) added 4.08% or 68.50 points to end at 1748.50 and Next PLC (LON:NXT) was up 2.84% or 134.00 points to 4858.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Old Mutual Ltd (LON:OMU), which fell 2.72% or 3.48 points to trade at 124.52 at the close. Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HIK) declined 2.30% or 40.50 points to end at 1718.50 and International Consolidated Airlines Group S.A. (LON:ICAG) was down 2.11% or 14.00 points to 649.80.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the London Stock Exchange by 1186 to 851 and 349 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.15% or 2.00 to $1329.70 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.88% or 0.49 to hit $56.47 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.38% or 0.25 to trade at $66.50 a barrel.

GBP/USD was up 0.30% to 1.2928, while EUR/GBP fell 0.05% to 0.8750.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.12% at 96.620.

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Germany stocks mixed at close of trade; DAX down 0.01%

– Germany stocks were mixed after the close on Monday, as gains in the Software, Media and Retail sectors led shares higher while losses in the Transportation&Logistics, Technology and Insurance sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Frankfurt, the DAX lost 0.01%, while the MDAX index climbed 0.57%, and the TecDAX index climbed 1.48%.

The best performers of the session on the DAX were Wirecard AG (DE:WDIG), which rose 15.19% or 15.175 points to trade at 115.075 at the close. Meanwhile, Henkel&Co KGaA AG Pref (DE:HNKG_p) added 1.59% or 1.38 points to end at 88.28 and Deutsche Telekom AG Na (DE:DTEGn) was up 0.84% or 0.120 points to 14.380 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Deutsche Post AG NA O.N. (DE:DPWGn), which fell 2.39% or 0.640 points to trade at 26.110 at the close. Thyssenkrupp AG O.N. (DE:TKAG) declined 1.70% or 0.225 points to end at 13.035 and Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DE:LHAG) was down 1.34% or 0.300 points to 22.070.

The top performers on the MDAX were Puma SE (DE:PUMG) which rose 3.62% to 458.50, Zalando SE (DE:ZALG) which was up 3.21% to settle at 26.98 and GEA Group AG (DE:G1AG) which gained 3.12% to close at 21.150.

The worst performers were Schaeffler AG Pref (DE:SHA_p) which was down 1.90% to 7.74 in late trade, Osram Licht AG (DE:OSRn) which lost 1.68% to settle at 40.46 and Wacker Chemie O.N. (DE:WCHG) which was down 1.07% to 90.44 at the close.

The top performers on the TecDAX were Tele Columbus AG (DE:TC1n) which rose 8.45% to 2.02, Hapag Lloyd AG (DE:HLAG) which was up 6.69% to settle at 26.4600 and Xing AG (DE:OBCGn) which gained 5.94% to close at 285.50.

The worst performers were Kloeckner&Co SE NA (DE:KCOGn) which was down 6.04% to 6.2200 in late trade, VTG AG O.N. (DE:VT9G) which lost 2.49% to settle at 51.000 and Dr. Hoenle AG O.N. (DE:HNLG) which was down 1.47% to 53.600 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by 400 to 307 and 72 ended unchanged.

Shares in Thyssenkrupp AG O.N. (DE:TKAG) fell to 3-years lows; losing 1.70% or 0.225 to 13.035.

The DAX volatility index, which measures the implied volatility of DAX options, was up 0.89% to 17.10.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.15% or 2.00 to $1329.70 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.88% or 0.49 to hit $56.47 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.38% or 0.25 to trade at $66.50 a barrel.

EUR/USD was up 0.16% to 1.1312, while EUR/GBP fell 0.05% to 0.8750.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.12% at 96.620.

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Norway stocks higher at close of trade; Oslo OBX up 0.07%

– Norway stocks were higher after the close on Monday, as gains in the Pharma Biotech&Life Sciences, Capital Goods and Auto&components sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Oslo, the Oslo OBX rose 0.07% to hit a new 1-month high.

The best performers of the session on the Oslo OBX were P/f Bakkafrost (OL:BAKKA), which rose 4.18% or 19.00 points to trade at 473.40 at the close. Meanwhile, Grieg Seafood (OL:GSFO) added 3.04% or 3.50 points to end at 118.60 and BW Offshore Ltd (OL:BWO) was up 2.36% or 1.100 points to 47.700 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OL:NWC), which fell 4.46% or 4.34 points to trade at 93.00 at the close. Nel ASA (OL:NEL) declined 1.77% or 0.100 points to end at 5.265 and TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA (OL:TGS) was down 1.56% or 4.0 points to 251.6.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Oslo Stock Exchange by 106 to 86 and 26 ended unchanged.

Shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OL:NWC) fell to 5-year lows; down 4.46% or 4.34 to 93.00.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 0.88% or 0.49 to $56.47 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 0.33% or 0.22 to hit $66.47 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.15% or 2.00 to trade at $1329.70 a troy ounce.

EUR/NOK was down 0.10% to 9.7332, while USD/NOK fell 0.30% to 8.6066.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.12% at 96.620.

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Litecoin Climbs 10% As Investors Gain Confidence

- Litecoin was trading at $47.913 by 11:35 (16:35 GMT) on the Index on Monday, up 10.04% on the day. It was the largest one-day percentage gain since February 8.

The move upwards pushed Litecoin's market cap up to $2.869B, or 2.17% of the total cryptocurrency market cap. At its highest, Litecoin's market cap was $14.099B.

Litecoin had traded in a range of $43.798 to $47.913 in the previous twenty-four hours.

Over the past seven days, Litecoin has seen a rise in value, as it gained 8.55%. The volume of Litecoin traded in the twenty-four hours to time of writing was $1.328B or 4.28% of the total volume of all cryptocurrencies. It has traded in a range of $40.7214 to $47.9127 in the past 7 days.

At its current price, Litecoin is still down 88.59% from its all-time high of $420.00 set on December 12, 2017.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading

Bitcoin was last at $3,874.1 on the Index, up 6.58% on the day.

Ethereum was trading at $147.12 on the Index, a gain of 13.70%.

Bitcoin's market cap was last at $68.310B or 51.74% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, while Ethereum's market cap totaled $15.455B or 11.71% of the total cryptocurrency market value.

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Turkey stocks lower at close of trade; BIST 100 down 0.96%

– Turkey stocks were lower after the close on Monday, as losses in the Transport, Banking and Tourism sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Istanbul, the BIST 100 fell 0.96%.

The best performers of the session on the BIST 100 were Aksa Enerji Uretim AS (IS:AKSEN), which rose 5.13% or 0.140 points to trade at 2.870 at the close. Meanwhile, Tofas Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi AS (IS:TOASO) added 4.63% or 0.88 points to end at 19.90 and Galatasaray Sportif Sinai ve Ticari Yatirimlar AS (IS:GSRAY) was up 4.03% or 0.06 points to 1.55 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Ipek Dogal Enerji Kaynaklari Arastirma ve Uretim AS (IS:IPEKE), which fell 9.11% or 0.480 points to trade at 4.790 at the close. Koza Anadolu Metal Madencilik Isletmeleri AS (IS:KOZAA) declined 7.71% or 0.450 points to end at 5.390 and Koza Altin Isletmeleri AS (IS:KOZAL) was down 5.52% or 2.81 points to 48.14.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Istanbul Stock Exchange by 195 to 162 and 49 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.10% or 1.35 to $1329.05 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.59% or 0.33 to hit $56.31 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.29% or 0.19 to trade at $66.44 a barrel.

USD/TRY was up 0.72% to 5.3084, while EUR/TRY rose 0.92% to 6.0027.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.10% at 96.640.

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Oil Prices Hit 2019 High as Market Tightening Spurs 20% Recovery

- Oil prices pressed higher on Monday as signs of supply reductions and hopes that the U.S. and China may resolve their trade dispute spurred bets of a market rebalancing, sparking a recovery in crude following one of the worst annual declines in three years.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 35 cents, or 0.63%, at $56.33 a barrel by 9:34 AM ET (14:34 GMT). That was off the intraday peak of $56.73, its best level since November of last year.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded up 3 cents, or 0.05%, to $66.28. The intraday high of $66.84 was also its best level since last November.

A roller coaster year in 2018 saw oil prices tumble from nearly four-year highs, as West Texas Intermediate oil lost half its value in the space of just three months. U.S. crude fell 25% last year while Brent slumped nearly 20%, making it the largest annual loss for oil since 2015 as shortage concerns turned to worries of oversupply at a time when the global economy showed signs of a slowdown.

Responding to the threat of the return of the global supply glut, OPEC and a group of 10 producers outside the cartel, led by Russia, agreed to collectively cut production by a total of 1.2 million barrels per day during the first six months of 2019.

Top exporter and OPEC's de-facto leader Saudi Arabia recently pledged to cut even more production than the deal called for.

“OPEC production cuts and U.S. sanctions on both Iran and Venezuela are limiting supply,” Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, insisted.

U.S. President Donald Trump also boosted confidence after saying over the weekend that talks with China are “going extremely well,” and that Washington is closer than ever before to “having a real trade deal”.

Trump added that he would remove tariffs if the two sides could reach an agreement.

“Trade tensions which have weighed on global growth are showing signs of easing boosting sentiment across markets and lifting oil demand prospects," Lawler explained.

The trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies has been widely blamed for a lack of business confidence, hindering growth amid the uncertainty and taking its toll on the outlook for oil demand.

Consultancy JBC Energy commented in a note that its calculations “do tell us that we are looking at the tightest (first half) crude balance in many years and, as such, a certain degree of price support does simply make sense for the time being.”

PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga warned that there are still many pending uncertainties that could have a negative impact on oil prices.

“Latest available data, however, point in the direction of a tightening market. It is not recommended to swim against the current and presently the 'oil' river is flowing north,”

In other energy trading, gasoline futures fell 0.18% to $1.5700 a gallon by 9:44 AM ET (14:44 GMT), while heating oil slipped 0.06% to $2.0191 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures traded up 0.38% to $2.635 per million British thermal unit.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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Gold Prices Rise Towards Fresh 10-Month High as Dollar Slips

- Gold prices edged higher on Monday, rising towards their best level since April as the U.S. dollar weakened on hopes the U.S. and China would hammer out an agreement resolving their protracted trade war.

Comex gold futures were up $2.25, or around 0.2%, at $1,329.95 a troy ounce by 8:40AM ET (13:40 GMT), not far from a 10-month high of $1,331.10.

Meanwhile, spot gold was trading at $1,326.91 per ounce, up $5.50, or roughly 0.4%.

There will be no floor trading on the Comex on Monday because of Washington's Birthday, more widely known as Presidents Day. All electronic transactions will be booked with Tuesday's trades for settlement.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, dipped 0.2% to 96.54, well off a 2019 high of 97.23 reached on Friday.

Dollar weakness usually benefits gold, as it boosts the metal's appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Markets will be keeping abreast of the next round of trade discussions between the U.S. and China in Washington this week, as the two sides race to reach a deal that would avert a tariff increase on Chinese goods by March 1.

U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25% from 10% if no deal is reached by March 1, but U.S. President Donald Trump said that he may extend the deadline if the two sides were close to an agreement.

Investors will also focus on the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting, due on Wednesday, for further insight into the outlook for monetary policy in the months ahead.

After the Fed hiked rates four times in 2018, investors now expect the U.S. central bank to halt its monetary tightening policy this year as risks to the U.S. economy mount.

"Looser monetary policies are generally favorable to gold, which has benefited since the Fed paused its tightening path," said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager, ABC Bullion.

In other metals trading, silver futures tacked on 6.9 cents, or about 0.4%, to trade at $15.81 a troy ounce.

Meanwhile, palladium futures jumped 1.6% to reach an all-time high of $1,430.45 an ounce.

"In combination with supply-side issues, the market is going to be in a sizeable deficit this year ... potential for better-than-expected demand from China will exacerbate that tightness," said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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Top 5 Things to Know in The Market on Monday

- Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Monday, February 18:

1. U.S.-China Trade Talks Continue in Washington

Markets will be keeping abreast of the next round of trade discussions between the U.S. and China in Washington, as the two sides race to reach a deal that would avert a tariff increase on imports of Chinese goods by March 1.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator, Liu He, will lead the next round of talks scheduled for this week.

Both sides reported progress in five days of negotiations in Beijing last week, but the White House said much work remains to be done in order to reach a deal.

U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25% from 10% if no deal is reached by March 1, but U.S. President Donald Trump said that he may extend the deadline if the two sides were close an agreement.

2. Commerce Submits Auto Tariff Recommendation to Trump

Investors were also watching for more information on a Commerce Department probe on whether to impose tariffs of up to 25% on imported vehicles and auto parts on national-security grounds.

The report was submitted to the White House on Sunday. Trump now has 90 days to decide whether to act upon the recommendations.

The probe is the result of an investigation started by the Commerce Department in May 2018 at Trump's request. Known as a Section 232 investigation, the probe's purpose is to determine the effects of imports on national security.

3. U.S. Markets Closed for Washington's Birthday

U.S. financial markets are closed for Washington's Birthday, more widely known as Presidents Day. In observance of the holiday, there will be no trading on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite indexes.

Fixed-income markets will also be closed, which means no trading in the 10-year Treasury note.

Meanwhile, the CME Group’s Globex, which operates options and futures exchanges, will have only partial disruptions to its normal schedule. According to the company, its crude oil and energy markets will close at 1:00PM ET (18:00 GMT).

Other global markets will operate on a normal schedule.

Currency markets are also operating as usual.

4. Global Stocks Mixed

World stocks were mixed, as market participants continued to monitor trade talks between the world's two largest economies.

Asian stock markets closed mostly in positive territory. Shanghai blue chips surged 2.7% to their highest finish in more than six months, while Tokyo's Nikkei climbed 1.8% to reach its highest level so far this year.

Elsewhere, European stocks were mostly lower in choppy trade, struggling to build on the four-month high they hit on Friday, due in part to the threat of President Donald Trump levying tariffs against European automakers.

Among national indexes, Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE 100 were both down by about 0.2% at 5:25AM ET (10:25 GMT).

5. Oil Prices Hit 2019 Highs

In commodities, oil prices climbed to their highest level for the year so far, supported by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, which have helped tighten the market.

Crude futures were also generally supported by hopes that the U.S. and China would soon resolve their trade disputes, which have dragged on global economic growth.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures rose 21 cents, or around 0.4%, to $56.19 per barrel. It earlier rose to its strongest level since Nov. 20 at $56.66.

International Brent crude oil futures also rose to their highest since November, at $66.84 per barrel, before pulling back to $65.98, down 27 cents, or 0.4%.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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Japan stocks higher at close of trade; Nikkei 225 up 1.82%

– Japan stocks were higher after the close on Monday, as gains in the Chemical, Petroleum&Plastic, Rubber and Mining sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.82% to hit a new 1-month high.

The best performers of the session on the Nikkei 225 were Yaskawa Electric Corp. (T:6506), which rose 6.01% or 185.0 points to trade at 3265.0 at the close. Meanwhile, Mitsui Engineering&Shipbuilding (T:7003) added 5.40% or 62.0 points to end at 1211.0 and Asahi Kasei Corp. (T:3407) was up 5.26% or 58.5 points to 1171.5 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Olympus Corp. (T:7733), which fell 1.55% or 75.0 points to trade at 4775.0 at the close. Sojitz Corp. (T:2768) declined 0.95% or 4.0 points to end at 418.0 and Taiyo Yuden Co., Ltd. (T:6976) was down 0.75% or 18.0 points to 2384.0.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 2924 to 637 and 147 ended unchanged.

The Nikkei Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, was up 4.84% to 18.64.

Crude oil for April delivery was up 1.02% or 0.57 to $56.55 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 0.56% or 0.37 to hit $66.62 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.18% or 2.35 to trade at $1325.35 a troy ounce.

USD/JPY was up 0.10% to 110.59, while EUR/JPY rose 0.21% to 124.95.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.04% at 96.703.

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Dollar Edges Back as Hopes for Trade Deal Rise

-- Foreign exchange markets got off to a slow start Monday, with trading set to remain subdued due to a sparse data calendar in Europe and public holidays in North America.

The dollar has retreated slightly over the weekend amid hopes that the U.S. and China will find a way to de-escalate their trade war. Such hopes were the main driver of a rally in Asian stock markets overnight, with the Nikkei 225 and Hang Seng indices both rising over 1.5%, while mainland Chinese stocks gained even more.

Commodity prices, too, have rallied overnight, with crude oil touching its highest level since November.

Officials from China and the U.S. are due to continue talks this week in Washington DC.

At 03:00 AM ET (0800 GMT), the dollar index was at 96.71, down nearly 0.5% from the new high for 2019 that it hit last week. It was supported by the buck rising against the yen, as the world’s cheapest funding currency suffered most from the return of animal spirits. The USD/JPY pair rose to 110.61.

The euro was back above $1.13, up nearly half a cent from the low it hit on Friday when European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure said the euro-zone economy’s slowdown had been deeper and broader than the ECB first thought.

Marc Ostwald, global strategist and chief economist with ADM ISI in London, said in a note to clients that markets are balanced between the “ostensibly positive aspect of central banks stepping back from, or pushing back on policy tightening narratives,” given the weakening growth outlook, and the risk of further financial repression, and its baggage of negative interest rates and crushed credit premiums.

The British pound was weaker against the dollar but was holding up against the euro after the EU’s securities regulator ESMA said it would issue temporary licenses to U.K.-based clearing houses in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. That means EU-based clients would still be able to clear trades through London in the short term, reducing the risk of financial volatility. Cable was at $1.2902.

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Gold Price Gains, Dollar Weakens Amid Positive Trade Headlines

- Gold future price gained while the U.S. dollar slipped on Monday in Asia amid more positive trade headlines that came out during the weekend.

Both the U.S. and China reported progress in trade negotiations last week, although President Donald Trump said Friday that the talks were “very complicated".

In futures trading, gold's benchmark April contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 0.3% at $1,326.35 per ounce by 1:40 AM ET (06:40 GMT).

Gold future price settled at the highest level in two weeks on Friday, closing at $1,324.75.

Meanwhile, the greenback, which had been the preferred safe-haven since the beginning of the Sino-U.S. trade war, traded slightly lower on Monday amid rising hopes of a trade deal.

The U.S. dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies dropped 0.1% at 96.640.

The Federal Reserve will release minutes of its most recent policy meeting and might provide more hints on future rate hikes paths for the rest of 2019.

The U.S. central bank left interest rates on hold at the conclusion of its policy meeting on Jan. 30 and pledged to be patient with further interest rate hikes, dropping its guidance that ‘further gradual’ rate rises will be needed.

“Looser monetary policies are generally favourable to gold, which has benefited since the Fed paused its tightening path,” said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion, in a Business Day report.

“The market will be looking closely at US and China data and I think gold will target a retest of the $1,326 level again,” Frappell added.

Speeches from a number of Fed officials, including New York Fed President John Williams (NYSE:WMB) and St. Louis Fed head James Bullard, are also expected to receive some attention later this week.

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Australia stocks higher at close of trade; S&P/ASX 200 up 0.39%

– Australia stocks were higher after the close on Monday, as gains in the Energy, Resources and Metals&Mining sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.39%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/ASX 200 were Automotive Group Holdings Ltd (AX:AHG), which rose 8.56% or 0.140 points to trade at 1.775 at the close. Meanwhile, GWA Group Ltd (AX:GWA) added 4.38% or 0.140 points to end at 3.340 and Ansell Ltd (AX:ANN) was up 4.09% or 0.990 points to 25.210 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Bingo Industries Ltd (AX:BIN), which fell 49.13% or 1.130 points to trade at 1.170 at the close. Smartgroup Corporation Ltd (AX:SIQ) declined 9.18% or 0.900 points to end at 8.900 and Bank Of Queensland Ltd. (AX:BOQ) was down 6.33% or 0.630 points to 9.320.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Sydney Stock Exchange by 599 to 535 and 367 ended unchanged.

Shares in Bingo Industries Ltd (AX:BIN) fell to all time lows; falling 49.13% or 1.130 to 1.170.

The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was up 0.03% to 12.735.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.28% or 3.75 to $1325.85 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 0.59% or 0.33 to hit $56.31 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.33% or 0.22 to trade at $66.47 a barrel.

AUD/USD was up 0.10% to 0.7146, while AUD/JPY rose 0.29% to 79.00.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.10% at 96.645.

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Chinese Insurance Giant Ping An Insurance Offers Low-Fee ETF Product

- The shares of Hong Kong-listed insurance giant Ping An Insurance (HK:2318) jumped almost 3% on Monday after the company said it is launching a low-fee exchange-traded funds (ETF) product.

According to a prospectus and industry data that was cited by Bloomberg, Ping An Fund Management Co., the fund arm, will offer an ETF tracking ChiNext startup stocks with a management fee of 0.15%, far lower than the industry average of 0.5%. Its 0.05% custodian fee is also just half of the 0.1% average.

“Technological upgrades and institutional demand prompted us” to introduce the product, the Ping An unit said in an e-mailed statement that was cited by Bloomberg. ETFs with “appropriate, reasonable fees” are more attractive in the long term and support market stability, it said.

The move echoed the approach of Vanguard Group, which tripled its ETF-market share to 26% in the U.S. over the course of a decade by cutting costs.

Vanguard has now amassed more than $5 trillion of client assets after offering low-cost funds to millions of Americans, Bloomberg noted.

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Israel stocks higher at close of trade; TA 35 up 0.71%

– Israel stocks were higher after the close on Sunday, as gains in the Insurance, Biomed and Oil&Gas sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Tel Aviv, the TA 35 added 0.71% to hit a new 1-month high.

The best performers of the session on the TA 35 were Liveperson (TA:LPSN), which rose 2.53% or 238 points to trade at 9630 at the close. Meanwhile, OPKO Health Inc (TA:OPK) added 2.49% or 25 points to end at 1031 and Gazit Globe Ltd (TA:GZT) was up 2.13% or 61 points to 2927 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Nice Ltd (TA:NICE), which fell 1.95% or 830 points to trade at 41720 at the close. Ormat Technologies (TA:ORA) declined 0.24% or 50 points to end at 20750 and Isramco Negev 2 LP (TA:ISRAp) was 0.00% or 0.0 points to 41.0.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by 236 to 141 and 39 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for April delivery was unchanged 0.00% or 0.00 to $55.98 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.69% or 1.74 to hit $66.31 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.83% or 10.85 to trade at $1324.75 a troy ounce.

USD/ILS was up 0.06% to 3.6202, while EUR/ILS rose 0.08% to 4.0892.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.06% at 96.745.

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Saudi Arabia stocks lower at close of trade; Tadawul All Share down 0.40%

– Saudi Arabia stocks were lower after the close on Sunday, as losses in the Retail, Telecoms&IT and Energy&Utilities sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul All Share declined 0.40%.

The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were Saudi Cable Company (SE:2110), which rose 6.38% or 2.85 points to trade at 47.50 at the close. Meanwhile, Qassim Agriculture Co. (SE:6020) added 4.27% or 0.50 points to end at 12.20 and Allied Cooperative Insurance Group (SE:8150) was up 3.83% or 0.88 points to 23.88 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Abdullah A. M. Al-Khodari Sons Co (SE:1330), which fell 9.86% or 0.56 points to trade at 5.12 at the close. Amana Cooperative Insurance Co (SE:8310) declined 3.73% or 0.64 points to end at 16.54 and The Company for Coop. Insurance (SE:8010) was down 2.40% or 1.40 points to 56.90.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 99 to 75 and 15 ended unchanged.

Shares in Abdullah A. M. Al-Khodari Sons Co (SE:1330) fell to all time lows; losing 9.86% or 0.56 to 5.12. Shares in Allied Cooperative Insurance Group (SE:8150) rose to 3-years highs; rising 3.83% or 0.88 to 23.88.

Crude oil for April delivery was unchanged 0.00% or 0.00 to $55.98 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.69% or 1.74 to hit $66.31 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.83% or 10.85 to trade at $1324.75 a troy ounce.

EUR/SAR was up 0.03% to 4.2362, while USD/SAR rose 0.01% to 3.7504.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.06% at 96.745.

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Gold / Silver / Copper Prices - Weekly Outlook: Feb. 18 - 22

- This week precious metal traders will closely monitor movements in the U.S. dollar, one of the biggest drivers for gold, with U.S.-China trade talks continuing in Washington and Federal Reserve minutes and U.S. economic reports on tap.

Both the U.S. and China reported progress in trade negotiations last week, but President Donald Trump said Friday that the talks were “very complicated" and that he might extend the March 1 deadline and keep tariffs on Chinese goods from rising.

U.S. duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to rise from 10% to 25% if no deal is reached by the deadline.

The Fed on Wednesday is due to publish the minutes of its January meeting where its kept rates on hold and surprised markets by shifting to a more dovish stance on future rate hikes, citing subdued inflation and rising risks to global economic growth.

This week will also see speeches from a number of Fed officials, including New York Fed President John Williams and St. Louis Fed head James Bullard.

Market watchers will be looking ahead to Thursday’s durable goods report for an update on the health of the manufacturing sector, while a report on existing home sales the same day will give fresh insight into the housing sector, which lost momentum late last year amid higher interest rates and property prices.

Gold prices settled at the highest level in two weeks on Friday as indications of progress U.S.-China trade talks were seen as bullish for the yellow metal.

Gold futures ended up 0.83% at $1,324.75 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange late Friday, after rising as high as $1,325.80 earlier.

While gold posted a small weekly gain, it was rangebound for most of the week, with gains on Friday stemmed by a rebound in stocks.

"Gold (price action) is like watching oil evaporate. The market is continually bearish at lows and bullish at highs with actual breaks infrequent," said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO.

"The end of the (Fed) tightening cycle now looms which improves the overall backdrop for gold significantly. With the Fed on hold, there is less pressure for the rest of the globe to keep pace."

The metal gained 0.5% in the previous session after weak U.S. retail sales data added to concerns over slowing growth, which could prompt the Fed to hold interest rates steady for a while. Gold is highly sensitive to rising interest rates, as these increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

"The world economy is slowing very rapidly and therefore monetary policy everywhere will be eased, so the outlook is a lot more inflationary, helping gold," said Alasdair Macleod, head of research at GoldMoney.com.

Elsewhere in metals trading, silver was up 1.46% to $15.75 a troy ounce, paring the week’s losses to 0.42%, for a second straight weekly decline.

Copper ended at $2.816, up 1.51% for the day but ended the week lower, snapping five weeks of gains.

Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of significant events likely to affect the markets.

Monday, February 18

The U.K. is to publish industry data on house price inflation.

Financial markets in the U.S. will be closed for Washington’s Birthday, more widely known as President’s Day.

Tuesday, February 19

The Reserve Bank of Australia is to publish the minutes of its latest policy setting meeting.

The U.K. is to publish its monthly jobs report.

The ZEW Institute is to publish a report on German economic sentiment.

Wednesday, February 20

Australia is to publish data on the wage price index.

The Federal Reserve is to publish the minutes of its January rate setting meeting.

Thursday, February 21

Australia is to release its jobs report.

The euro zone is to release data on private sector business activity.

The European Central Bank is to publish its meeting minutes.

The U.S. is to release data on durable goods orders, jobless claims, existing home sales and manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area.

Friday, February 22

The Ifo Institute is to publish a report on German business climate.

The euro zone is to release revised inflation data.

Canada is scheduled to produce data on retail sales.

ECB President Mario Draghi is to speak at an event in Bologna.

A number of Fed officials, including New York Fed President John Williams, St. Louis Fed head James Bullard and Fed Governors Randal Quarles and Richard Clarida are to speak at the U.S. Monetary Policy Forum, in New York.

-Reuters contributed to this report

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Weekly Outlook: Feb. 18 - 22

- Despite a holiday-shortened week in the U.S. the economic calendar for this week is busy, with U.S.-China trade talks continuing in Washington and Federal Reserve minutes and U.S. economic reports on tap.

Both the U.S. and China reported progress in trade negotiations last week, but President Donald Trump said Friday that the talks were “very complicated" and that he might extend the March 1 deadline and keep tariffs on Chinese goods from rising.

U.S. duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to rise from 10% to 25% if no deal is reached by the deadline.

The Fed on Wednesday is due to publish the minutes of its January meeting where its kept rates on hold and surprised markets by shifting to a more dovish stance on future rate hikes, citing subdued inflation and rising risks to global economic growth.

This week will also see speeches from a number of Fed officials, including New York Fed President John Williams and St. Louis Fed head James Bullard.

Market watchers will be looking ahead to Thursday’s durable goods report for an update on the health of the manufacturing sector, while a report on existing home sales the same day will give fresh insight into the housing sector, which lost momentum late last year amid higher interest rates and property prices.

The U.S. dollar slid lower on Friday after San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly suggested the central bank may hold off on raising interest rates in 2019.

The dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of six rivals, was at 96.74 late Friday, after a week that included several weak data reports, including dismal U.S. retail sales.

The fall in the dollar saw the euro pull back from a three month low hit earlier in the day.

"All of this looks like a positive risk tone in markets on dovish Fed comments from Daly which go further than what other Fed speakers have said," said Richard Franulovich, senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. "That I think is what has undermined the dollar and pulled the euro up."

Despite Friday’s recovery the single currency posted a second week of losses and is down 1.7% year to date on weaker-than-expected euro zone data.

The dollar was flat against the yen late Friday, with USD/JPY ending at 110.48.

Elsewhere, sterling ended little changed at 1.2894 after British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday suffered a largely symbolic defeat on her Brexit strategy.

Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of significant events likely to affect the markets.

Monday, February 18

The U.K. is to publish industry data on house price inflation.

Financial markets in the U.S. will be closed for Washington’s Birthday, more widely known as President’s Day.

Tuesday, February 19

The Reserve Bank of Australia is to publish the minutes of its latest policy setting meeting.

The U.K. is to publish its monthly jobs report.

The ZEW Institute is to publish a report on German economic sentiment.

Wednesday, February 20

Australia is to publish data on the wage price index.

The Fed is to publish the minutes of its January rate setting meeting.

Thursday, February 21

Australia is to release its jobs report.

The euro zone is to release data on private sector business activity.

The European Central Bank is to publish its meeting minutes.

The U.S. is to release data on durable goods orders, jobless claims, existing home sales and manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area.

Friday, February 22

The Ifo Institute is to publish a report on German business climate.

The euro zone is to release revised inflation data.

Canada is scheduled to produce data on retail sales.

ECB President Mario Draghi is to speak at an event in Bologna.

A number of Fed officials, including New York Fed President John Williams, St. Louis Fed head James Bullard and Fed Governors Randal Quarles and Richard Clarida are to speak at the U.S. Monetary Policy Forum, in New York.


-- Reuters contributed to this report

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3 Things Under the Radar This Week

- Here’s a look at three things that were under the radar this past week.

1. Will Valentine’s Magic Continue for Oil?

Are oil bulls off to the races? Those long Brent or playing its spread versus U.S. WTI would have rubbed their hands with glee as the U.K. benchmark hit the key $65 per barrel level this week.

But if analysts at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) are right, that’s probably as much love as oil will get near term.

“We continue to see modest upside for Brent to $65/bbl in 2H,” the Wall Street bank said in an energy note this week, referring to second-half prospects.

Morgan Stanley agrees supply has tightened from relentless Saudi production cuts, reflected by the market’s recovery from Christmas Eve lows of around $50 for Brent and under $43 for WTI.

But it contends that a major imbalance has emerged and that’s the presence of too much light oil.

Together with modest gasoline demand, this is weighing on refinery margins and crude runs.

“Low refining margins and weaker economic data means oil prices can rally only so much,” it concludes.

The theory of an oil rally running on less-than-firm legs was reinforced by Thursday’s run-up, which came on the back of Saudi jawboning about upcoming production cuts and optimism over U.S.-China trade talks, despite mitigating weak U.S. crude supply-demand and economic data.

Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at ICAP (LON:NXGN) in Durham, N.C., notes that there was no real event driving the market the past few days but "prices are just strong."

The Energy Information Administration says a new swell of U.S. light oil is headed to the market, boosted by technology to unlock production from shale formations.

Those efforts could add 1.45 million barrels per day to U.S. production this year, bringing output to a record 12.41 million bpd. Next year’s output could go up by a further 790,000 bpd to a new all-time high of 13.2 million bpd.

2. Wage Hikes Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Small businesses have a knack of figuring out when the economic wind is about to change. And they signaled in a survey this week that trouble may be on the horizon.

In a day and age when companies are grappling with a shortage of skilled labor, a hefty wage package has proven effective bait to reel in top talent.

But small businesses indicated this week they don't plan on feeding the wage machine much longer as they expect the economy to falter, leading to cheaper labor.

With near-term wages growing faster than expected future wages, the compensation spread, which measures the difference between what small businesses will pay for labor now against what they are willing to pay in the future, is at the biggest margin in history, according to an NFIB survey.

The survey is sourced by economists for a read on domestic demand and to extrapolate hiring and wage trends in the broader economy. Wage growth is what keeps consumption ticking over and inflation on pace, staving off the risk of the economy flatlining, barring a Federal Reserve or government policy misstep.

Most importantly, the compensation curve has moved fairly in tandem with a Treasury yield curve.

Inverted yield curves have preceded every U.S. recession in recent history by anywhere from 15 months to around two years.

3. U.S. Government Debt Expectations Jump

The expectations for government debt rose sharply in January, according to a latest survey by the New York Federal Reserve published this week.

The median year-ahead expected growth in debt rose to 9.1% last month from 6.1% in December, the New York Fed said. That is the highest reading since September 2014, when it was 9.2%.

That could have market implications this year if the government pushes for policies like real negative interest rates to reduce the debt level. The 10-Year Treasury real interest rate, which is adjusted for inflation, is currently around 0.85%.

But so far the Trump administration has shown no interest in reducing the debt level.

When asked about whether President Donald Trump would mention the deficit or debt in the State of the Union, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly replied “Nobody cares.”

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Canada stocks higher at close of trade; S&P/TSX Composite up 0.94%

– Canada stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Energy, Industrials and Financials sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite added 0.94% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/TSX Composite were Toromont Industries Ltd . (TO:TIH), which rose 10.04% or 5.98 points to trade at 65.53 at the close. Meanwhile, Sierra Wireless Inc . (TO:SW) added 9.69% or 1.46 points to end at 16.52 and Lundin Mining Corporation (TO:LUN) was up 7.00% or 0.425 points to 6.495 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were MTY Food Group Inc (TO:MTY), which fell 12.55% or 8.77 points to trade at 61.09 at the close. Cineplex Inc . (TO:CGX) declined 7.40% or 2.01 points to end at 25.14 and New Gold Inc (TO:NGD) was down 6.67% or 0.080 points to 1.120.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Toronto Stock Exchange by 645 to 412 and 140 ended unchanged.

The S&P/TSX 60 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/TSX Composite options, was down 9.77% to 14.41 a new 1-month low.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.82% or 10.75 to $1324.65 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 2.43% or 1.32 to hit $55.73 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 2.66% or 1.72 to trade at $66.29 a barrel.

CAD/USD was up 0.34% to 0.7548, while CAD/EUR rose 0.43% to 0.6683.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.07% at 96.740.

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Stocks - Dow Wraps up Eighth Weekly Gain on US-China Trade Hopes

- The Dow wrapped up the week in strong form Friday, notching an eighth-straight week of gains as optimism that the U.S. and China were closing in on a trade deal triggered a sea of green across Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.74%, the S&P 500 added 1.09%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.61%.

The Dow finished up 3.1% for the week, with the S&P 500 up 2.5% and the Nasdaq 2.4% higher. The Dow's close was its best since early November. The S&P and Nasdaq finished at their highest levels since Dec. 3.

With just weeks to go until the March 1 deadline, President Donald Trump offered an optimistic update on the second round of U.S.-China trade talks, prompting traders to turn bullish on stocks.

Trump said that trade talks "are going extremely well," stressing that the United States is closer than ever to "having a real trade deal" with China.

Without a trade deal secured by March 1, the U.S. could implement further tariffs on China. Trump said, however, that he would be "honored" to remove tariffs if an agreement can be reached.

The newfound optimism on trade pushed energy stocks sharply higher, as traders had long feared a prolonged trade war would hurt economic growth in China, the world's largest oil consumer, denting oil demand.

Trade has been not only weighed on market sentiment but also on corporate earnings.

Tractor supplier Deere (NYSE:DE) posted a rare earnings miss, blaming higher raw material costs and concerns over tariffs and trade policies. Its shares fell 2%.

Financials, mostly bank stocks, also led the market higher thanks to solid gains from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Citigroup (NYSE:C).

Newell Brands (NASDAQ:NWL) plunged 18% after reporting fourth-quarter revenue that fell below estimates from . The company also singled out trade tensions as factor that hurt results.

In tech, a surge in semis was led by Nvidia following the chipmakers' quarterly results and guidance from a day earlier.

Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) closed 2% higher at $157.34, but well below session highs of $163.87 as Wall Street doubted the company's guidance for a large jump in fourth-quarter revenue amid an uncertain backdrop for many of its businesses. It makes graphics chips that are often used in computers aimed at gamers.

Morgan Stanley said Nvidia is facing several challenges across different parts of the business at the same time, which "create quite a bit of idiosyncratic risk, and many variables that are 'unknowable'."

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) and American International (NYSE:AIG) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

Newell Brands (NASDAQ:NWL) , Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) and Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

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DuPont Rises 3%

- DuPont (NYSE:DWDP) rose by 3.06% to trade at $54.27 by 15:58 (20:58 GMT) on Friday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of DuPont shares traded since the start of the session was 10.74M. DuPont has traded in a range of $53.13 to $54.28 on the day.

The stock has traded at $54.2800 at its highest and $50.8300 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Bank of America Rises 3%

- Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) rose by 3.11% to trade at $29.28 by 12:42 (17:42 GMT) on Friday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of Bank of America shares traded since the start of the session was 32.26M. Bank of America has traded in a range of $28.67 to $29.28 on the day.

The stock has traded at $29.2800 at its highest and $27.8600 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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France stocks higher at close of trade; CAC 40 up 1.79%

– France stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Industrials, Utilities and Technology sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Paris, the CAC 40 rose 1.79% to hit a new 3-months high, while the SBF 120 index added 1.64%.

The best performers of the session on the CAC 40 were Vivendi SA (PA:VIV), which rose 5.63% or 1.28 points to trade at 24.01 at the close. Meanwhile, Valeo SA (PA:VLOF) added 4.75% or 1.19 points to end at 26.26 and BNP Paribas SA (PA:BNPP) was up 4.19% or 1.70 points to 42.11 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Publicis Groupe SA (PA:PUBP), which fell 0.29% or 0.14 points to trade at 47.67 at the close. EssilorLuxottica SA (PA:ESLX) declined 0.28% or 0.30 points to end at 105.80 and Hermes International SCA (PA:HRMS) was down 0.11% or 0.60 points to 540.80.

The top performers on the SBF 120 were Bollore SA (PA:BOLL) which rose 6.68% to 3.704, Ipsen SA (PA:IPN) which was up 6.02% to settle at 125.10 and Plastic Omnium (PA:PLOF) which gained 5.73% to close at 24.56.

The worst performers were Eutelsat Communications SA (PA:ETL) which was down 5.96% to 17.68 in late trade, Electricite de France SA (PA:EDF) which lost 5.76% to settle at 13.99 and Groupe FNAC (PA:FNAC) which was down 4.57% to 64.700 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Paris Stock Exchange by 352 to 211 and 105 ended unchanged.

Shares in Vivendi SA (PA:VIV) rose to 52-week highs; up 5.63% or 1.28 to 24.01. Shares in EssilorLuxottica SA (PA:ESLX) fell to 52-week lows; down 0.28% or 0.30 to 105.80.

The CAC 40 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of CAC 40 options, was down 7.89% to 14.31.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.50% or 6.55 to $1320.45 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 2.11% or 1.15 to hit $55.56 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 2.31% or 1.49 to trade at $66.06 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.23% to 1.1274, while EUR/GBP fell 0.64% to 0.8758.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.08% at 96.882.

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Denmark stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Copenhagen 20 up 0.58%

– Denmark stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Industrials, Financials and Consumer Services sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Copenhagen, the OMX Copenhagen 20 gained 0.58% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Copenhagen 20 were Ambu A/S (CO:AMBUb), which rose 2.55% or 4.0 points to trade at 160.7 at the close. Meanwhile, DSV (CO:DSV) added 2.29% or 12.0 points to end at 535.6 and ISS A/S (CO:ISS) was up 1.84% or 3.50 points to 193.60 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were GN Store Nord (CO:GN), which fell 0.99% or 3.0 points to trade at 299.0 at the close. Oersted A/S (CO:ORSTED) declined 0.88% or 4.20 points to end at 474.30 and William Demant Holding AS (CO:WDH) was down 0.81% or 1.8 points to 219.6.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange by 76 to 46 and 25 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 2.17% or 1.18 to $55.59 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.34% or 1.51 to hit $66.08 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.49% or 6.45 to trade at $1320.35 a troy ounce.

USD/DKK was up 0.22% to 6.6182, while EUR/DKK rose 0.04% to 7.4620.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.08% at 96.882.

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U.K. stocks higher at close of trade; Investing.com United Kingdom 100 up 0.56%

– U.K. stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Automobiles&Parts, Industrial Metals&Mining and Oil Equipment Services&Distribution sectors led shares higher.

At the close in London, the United Kingdom 100 added 0.56% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the United Kingdom 100 were Coca Cola HBC AG (LON:CCH), which rose 4.02% or 99.0 points to trade at 2562.0 at the close. Meanwhile, Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) added 2.89% or 6.30 points to end at 224.20 and Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (LON:RBS) was up 2.44% or 5.90 points to 247.50 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA), which fell 5.96% or 14.80 points to trade at 233.75 at the close. Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF) declined 3.05% or 7.10 points to end at 225.50 and Next PLC (LON:NXT) was down 2.11% or 102.00 points to 4724.00.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the London Stock Exchange by 1197 to 838 and 325 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.48% or 6.25 to $1320.15 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 2.21% or 1.20 to hit $55.61 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 2.25% or 1.45 to trade at $66.02 a barrel.

GBP/USD was up 0.42% to 1.2865, while EUR/GBP fell 0.59% to 0.8762.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.10% at 96.903.

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PNC Financial Rises 3%

- PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC) rose by 3.03% to trade at $124.27 by 12:07 (17:07 GMT) on Friday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of PNC Financial shares traded since the start of the session was 973.97K. PNC Financial has traded in a range of $121.56 to $124.27 on the day.

The stock has traded at $125.2900 at its highest and $119.4000 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Sweden stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Stockholm 30 up 1.37%

– Sweden stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Industrials, Basic Materials and Financials sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Stockholm, the OMX Stockholm 30 added 1.37% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Stockholm 30 were Atlas Copco AB Class A (ST:ATCOa), which rose 3.05% or 7.5 points to trade at 251.6 at the close. Meanwhile, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB A (ST:SEBa) added 2.96% or 2.82 points to end at 98.16 and Sandvik AB (ST:SAND) was up 2.82% or 4.15 points to 151.15 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were H&M Hennes&Mauritz AB B (ST:HMb), which fell 1.47% or 2.0 points to trade at 136.4 at the close. Tele2 AB (ST:TEL2b) declined 1.33% or 1.60 points to end at 118.45 and Skanska AB ser. B (ST:SKAb) was down 0.18% or 0.30 points to 162.60.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Stockholm Stock Exchange by 410 to 232 and 51 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 2.17% or 1.18 to $55.59 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.25% or 1.45 to hit $66.02 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.43% or 5.65 to trade at $1319.55 a troy ounce.

EUR/SEK was down 0.25% to 10.4656, while USD/SEK fell 0.04% to 9.2862.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.11% at 96.912.

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PepsiCo Rises 3%

- PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) rose by 3.16% to trade at $116.13 by 11:28 (16:28 GMT) on Friday on the NASDAQ exchange.

The volume of PepsiCo shares traded since the start of the session was 3.90M. PepsiCo has traded in a range of $114.11 to $116.15 on the day.

The stock has traded at $116.1300 at its highest and $111.8600 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Turkey stocks higher at close of trade; BIST 100 up 0.57%

– Turkey stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Information Technology, Wholesale&Retail Trade and Technology sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Istanbul, the BIST 100 gained 0.57%.

The best performers of the session on the BIST 100 were Turkiye Is Bankasi AS Class C (IS:ISCTR), which rose 3.76% or 0.210 points to trade at 5.790 at the close. Meanwhile, GSD Holding AS (IS:GSDHO) added 3.30% or 0.030 points to end at 0.940 and Otokar Otomotiv ve Savunma Sanayi AS (IS:OTKAR) was up 3.23% or 3.50 points to 112.00 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Tat Gida Sanayi AS (IS:TATGD), which fell 8.29% or 0.360 points to trade at 3.980 at the close. Aygaz AS (IS:AYGAZ) declined 3.44% or 0.39 points to end at 10.94 and Turk Hava Yollari AO (IS:THYAO) was down 3.32% or 0.470 points to 13.690.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Istanbul Stock Exchange by 209 to 135 and 62 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.29% or 3.75 to $1317.65 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 1.82% or 0.99 to hit $55.40 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.67% or 1.08 to trade at $65.65 a barrel.

USD/TRY was up 0.57% to 5.3003, while EUR/TRY rose 0.32% to 5.9715.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.15% at 96.953.

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Gold Prices Hit Two-Week Highs as Data Supports Fed Pause

- Gold prices moved higher on Friday as a string of weak economic data and subdued inflation supported the Federal Reserve’s current stance of being “patient” with future rate hikes, lowering the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.

At 10:47 AM ET (15:47 GMT), gold futures for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $4.35, or 0.33%, to $1,318.25 a troy ounce. The intraday high of $1,322.95 was its best level since Feb. 4.

Coming on the back of the biggest decline in U.S. retail sales in the last nine years, a string of weak data out Friday reinforced the idea that the economy lacks the firepower necessary to force the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates.

Overnight, Chinese inflation data increased concern over deflationary pressures in the world’s second largest economy. China’s consumer price inflation unexpectedly slowed, while factory-gate inflation hit its weakest level since September 2016.

Stateside, U.S. import prices fell for a third-straight month in January, leading to the largest annual drop in nearly 2-1/2 years. That only added to earlier evidence this week that the consumer price index was holding steady, downplaying the need for tighter Fed policy so inflation doesn’t get out of hand.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary February readings of consumer sentiment released on Friday showed a larger-than-expected improvement following the reopening of the government after a shutdown that had dragged confidence to a two-year low.

As part of the data collected, the surveyor’s chief economist Richard Curtin noted that consumers’ long-term inflation expectations fell to the lowest level recorded in the past half century.

“The data suggest that the Fed will find it even harder to justify another rate hike given the record low inflation expectations,” Curtin added.

In other metals trading, silver futures rose 0.32% at $15.578 a troy ounce by 10:48 AM ET (15:48 GMT).

Palladium futures gained 1.56% to $1,407.50 an ounce, while sister metal platinum traded up 0.42% at $792.50.

In base metals, copper advanced 0.32% to $2.783 a pound.

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XRP Dips Below 0.29986 Level, Down 0.77%

- XRP fell bellow the $0.29986 level on Friday. XRP was trading at 0.29986 by 10:03 (15:03 GMT) on the Index, down 0.77% on the day. It was the largest one-day percentage loss since February 14.

The move downwards pushed XRP's market cap down to $12.42408B, or 10.31% of the total cryptocurrency market cap. At its highest, XRP's market cap was $79.53400B.

XRP had traded in a range of $0.29986 to $0.30610 in the previous twenty-four hours.

Over the past seven days, XRP has seen a stagnation in value, as it only moved 0.78%. The volume of XRP traded in the twenty-four hours to time of writing was $415.76552M or 2.12% of the total volume of all cryptocurrencies. It has traded in a range of $0.2980 to $0.3163 in the past 7 days.

At its current price, XRP is still down 90.89% from its all-time high of $3.29 set on January 4, 2018.

Elsewhere in cryptocurrency trading

Bitcoin was last at $3,588.6 on the Index, down 0.08% on the day.

Ethereum was trading at $121.09 on the Index, a loss of 0.44%.

Bitcoin's market cap was last at $63.47904B or 52.68% of the total cryptocurrency market cap, while Ethereum's market cap totaled $12.82374B or 10.64% of the total cryptocurrency market value.

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Stocks - Wall Street Rises as Trade Talks Progress

- Wall Street was higher on Friday amid news that trade talks between the U.S. and China were going well and would be extended next week.

The S&P 500 rose 19 points, or 0.71%, as of 9:30 AM ET (14:30 GMT), while the Dow gained 125 points, or 0.49%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite increased 41 points, or 0.56%.

President Xi Jinping met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and said after that talks are progressing, according to Chinese state media.

"Next week, both sides will meet again in Washington. I hope you will continue efforts to advance reaching a mutually beneficial, win-win agreement," Xi said.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) was among the top gainers, rising 1%, while Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) gained 0.8% and PepsiCo Inc (NASDAQ:PEP) jumped 2% as an increased dividend outweighed a forecast decline for 2019. NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) rose 2% after its earnings beat expectations, while Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) was up 2.1%.

Elsewhere, semiconductor Micron (NASDAQ:MU) slumped 1.5% while Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) inched down 0.2% and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) slipped 0.6%. Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) slumped 4% after its forecast for the second-quarter were below expectations.

In commodities, gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,320.05 a troy ounce while crude oil jumped 1.7% to $55.34 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, inched up 0.1% to 96.93.

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NVIDIA Rises 5%

- NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) rose by 5.45% to trade at $162.95 by 09:30 (14:30 GMT) on Friday on the NASDAQ exchange.

The volume of NVIDIA shares traded since the start of the session was 921.56K. NVIDIA has traded in a range of $162.95 to $162.95 on the day.

The stock has traded at $162.9500 at its highest and $144.1300 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Stocks - NVIDIA Jumps in Premarket, Pepsi Rises, Applied Materials, Oracle Decline

- Stocks in focus in premarket trade Friday:

• NVIDIA stock (NASDAQ:NVDA) jumped 6.22% by 8:06 AM ET (13:06 GMT) after the company forecast better-than-expected sales for its current fiscal year.

• Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) stock lost 1.77% after the company forecast second-quarter profit and revenue below market expectations.

• PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) stock gained 2.36% as an increased dividend appeared to outweigh a forecast for a decline in profit this year.

• Deere (NYSE:DE) stock sank 4.25% after the company’s quarterly profit missed expectations as farmers put off purchases of machinery amid the ongoing uncertainty over trade with China.

• CBS (NYSE:CBS) stock declined 2.04% as quarterly results missed on the top and bottom lines.

• Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) stock soared 6.38% after The Wall Street Journal reported that activist investor Carl Icahn plans to push the management of the company to seek a sale.

• Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) fell 1.07% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKa) informed the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission that it had sold its entire stake in the company. Buffett's company has also reduced its stake in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

• Newell Brands (NASDAQ:NWL) stock tumbled 7.01% after the company’s outlook for earnings and sales missed forecasts.

• Truecar (NASDAQ:TRUE) stock dove 19.92% after the company reported worse-than-expected quarterly results and provided a weak outlook.

• Achaogen (NASDAQ:AKAO) stock crashed 37.11% after it proposed a secondary public offering of its common stock.

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Stocks - U.S. Futures Rise as Trade Talks Extended

– U.S. futures rose on Friday as Chinese President Xi Jinping said trade talks between the two biggest economies in the world would continue in Washington next week.

The extension was welcome news to investors, as it indicates officials are close to a deal before the March 1 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25% from 10%. U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated that he could extend the deadline by 60-days, if the two sides continue to make progress.

Xi made his comments after meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The S&P 500 futures rose 3 points or 0.11% as of 6:45 AM ET (11:45 GMT) while Dow futures gained 27 points or 0.11% and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures increased 7 points or 0.11%.

NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) was among the top gainers in premarket trading, jumping 5.8% after its earnings beat expectations, while semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) gained 1.5%, and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) rose 6.38% after news that activist investor Carl Icahn plans to push the management of the company to seek a sale.

Elsewhere, Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) fell 1.3%, while Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) slipped 0.4% and pharmaceutical company Achaogen Inc (NASDAQ:AKAO) slumped 39% after it proposed a secondary public offering of its common stock.

In economic news, investors will be looking to the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT), especially after Thursday’s disappointing retail sales numbers.

In commodities, gold futures recovered 0.6% to $1,322.15 a troy ounce, while crude oil rose 0.5% to $54.70 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.14% to 96.94 but was still off an overnight high.

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PepsiCo Earnings, Revenue inline in Q4

- PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) reported fourth quarter earnings that matched analysts' expectations on Friday and revenue that was inline with forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $1.49 on revenue of $19.52B. Analysts polled by expected EPS of $1.49 on revenue of $19.52B. That compared to EPS of $1.31 on revenue of $19.53B in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $1.59 on revenue of $16.49B in the previous quarter.

PepsiCo follows other major Consumer/Non-Cyclical sector earnings this month


On January 23, Procter&Gamble reported second quarter EPS of $1.25 on revenue of $17.44B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.21 on revenue of $17.16B.

Coca-Cola earnings matched analyst's expectations on Thursday, with fourth quarter EPS of $0.43 on revenue of $7.1B. analysts expected EPS of $0.43 on revenue of $7.06B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Friday

- Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Friday, Feb. 15:

1. U.S.-China trade talks drag on

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that trade talks between Washington and Beijing had been “productive”, but provided no details apart from the description.

As high level talks wound up in Beijing, several media reports cited sources that said little progress had been made on major issues that could pave the way for a meeting between the two countries.

Having finished discussions with the Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, The New York Times reported that Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later on Friday.

Speculation pointed to the possibility that the three may discuss holding a summit between Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump in the near future.

Separately, the South China Morning Post reported that high-level trade talks would continue in Washington next week.

2. Global stocks mixed as economic weakness weighs

Global stocks showed mixed signs on Friday as the reported lack of progress in U.S.-Sino trade talks weighed and weak Chinese data added to disappointing U.S. retail sales released a day earlier.

Asian stocks bore the brunt of the selloff as weak Chinese inflation data increased concern over deflationary pressures in the world’s second largest economy. China’s consumer price inflation unexpectedly slowed, while factory-gate inflation hit its weakest level since September 2016. China’s Shanghai Composite closed down 1.4% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended 1.2% lower.

Elsewhere, European bourses struggled to remain afloat in morning trade, but gains in the region’s telecoms and industrials helped push indices higher by midday on the Old Continent. Germany’s DAX trailed its peers as the country’s Ifo Institute warned that proposed U.S. auto tariffs could cut German car exports in half.

U.S. futures pointed to a flat open as investors held out after the largest drop in retail sales in nine years. At 5:50 AM ET (10:50 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures inched up 19 points, or 0.07%, S&P 500 futures edged forward 2 points, or 0.09%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 4 points, or 0.05%.

Read more: What Happens When More QE Fails To Reverse The Recession? - Charles Hugh Smith

3. U.S. consumer confidence in focus after retail sales plunged

After Thursday’s surprise tumble in retail sales for December, the market will be anxious to receive the latest consumer confidence figures. The University of Michigan will release its preliminary measure of its February consumer sentiment index at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT).

Consumer sentiment is expected to improve, recovering from the near-two-year low caused largely by the partial government shutdown.

The reading takes on particular significance after data showed Thursday that retail sales - equivalent to approximately 70% of the American economy - registered their largest decline in nine years.

Ahead of the confidence survey, the New York Fed will issue its measure of manufacturing in the New York region at 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT).

4. Pepsi and Deere step up on the earnings calendar

Earnings will remain in the spotlight in Friday’s trade as PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) and Deere (NYSE:DE) take the spotlight ahead of the open in the latest string of results for the fourth-quarter reporting period. Pepsi raised its dividend but forecast a 1% drop in underlying earnings this year before a rebound in 2020.

With 386 of the S&P 500 firms having already reported earnings, analysts at The Earning Scout warned that beat rates are below normal as growth has slowed and companies overall are lowering their guidance.

Chipmakers reporting after Thursday’s close gave mixed signals.

Shares of NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) soared 5% in premarket trade Friday as investors celebrated a profit beat and its full-year sales outlook topped consensus. but Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) had fallen around 1.5% in extended trading as its guidance for current quarter profit missed estimates.

5. Trump to declare national emergency

Trump is scheduled to speak at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT) Friday where White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed he would sign legislation to avoid a government shutdown and would also declare a national emergency in order to build a southern border wall with Mexico.

An emergency declaration would allow Trump to redirect the funds for the wall which were not included in the spending bill approved by Congress.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that she was reviewing her options in the hopes of filing a legal challenge to Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.

“This is not an emergency, and the president's fearmongering doesn't make it one,” she explained in a joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

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U.K. Retail Sales Rise by 1% in January

- U.K. retail sales rose by 1% in January, as consumers shrugged off uncertainty over the country’s plan to leave the European Union at the end of March and took advantage of post-holiday sales.

Retail sales rose 1% in January and were up 4.2% from a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. That was compared to a fall of 0.7% in the previous month, which was revised up from a negative 0.9%.

Economists polled by had forecast a reading of 0.2% for the month and a rise of 3.4% year on year.

"The quantity bought in textile, clothing and footwear stores showed strong year-on-year growth at 5.5% as stores took advantage of the January sales, with a year-on-year price fall of 0.9%," the ONS said in a press release.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile and gasoline sales, rose 1.2% in January and 4.1% year-over-year.

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Dollar Pushes Higher Again on Sagging Growth, Rising Uncertainty

-- The dollar was edging higher against major European currencies early Friday in Europe after weak Chinese inflation data overnight reinforced concerns about global growth.

Fears about the growth outlook have revived this week in the wake of a shockingly sharp fall in U.S. retail sales in December, and there is still not enough evidence of progress in the trade talks between China and the U.S. to suggest that risk appetite will return quickly.

At 03:00 AM ET (8:00 GMT), the dollar index futures contract that tracks the greenback against a basket of major currencies was at 96.953. That’s just off a new two-month high of 97.120 that it hit Thursday.

The market hasn’t reacted much to news that Trump is set to declare a national emergency over border security after signing the spending bill hammered out earlier this week in Congress. While the immediate threat of another shutdown has been lifted, the precedent threatens to undermine a long-standing principle of Congressional oversight of spending and introduce more longer-term instability into U.S. politics.

The euro was at $1.1278, down 0.2% and seemingly set to test a three-month low of $1.1218 later. The British pound was still struggling below $1.28 after another parliamentary defeat Thursday – albeit only a symbolic one, for Prime Minister Theresa May over her Brexit strategy.

The two currencies will be sensitive Friday to U.K. retail sales data for January which will either confirm or buck a trend of data showing the economy stalling as Brexit approaches. In addition, European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure is due to speak at 08:00 AM ET (13.00 GMT).

Elsewhere, the dollar was also higher against the growth-sensitive Aussie and Kiwi, and against higher-yielding currencies such as the Turkish lira and South African rand.

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Yuan Falls on Weak CPI, PPI; U.S. Dollar Rises Despite Retail Sales Data

- The yuan fell against the U.S. dollar on Friday in Asia after data showed China’s January Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index both missed expectations.

The country’s CPI rose 1.7% in January from a year earlier, slower than the 1.9% increase in December and below market expectations for a 1.9% rise.

Meanwhile, the PPI rose 0.1% year-on-year in January, the weakest pace since September 2016 and slowing from the previous month's 0.9% increase.

Generally speaking, a high reading is seen as positive for the yuan, while a low reading is seen as negative for the Chinese currency.

The USD/CNY pair last traded at 6.7753 at 12:23 AM ET (5:23 GMT), up 0.1%.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was also up 0.1% at 96.893.

The rise in the dollar came even after the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Thursday that U.S. retail sales fell for the first time in ten months in December.

CIBC said one weak reading shouldn't prove worrisome as a strong labour market will lend support to consumer spending in the coming months.

"Still, today's data reinforces the Fed's cautious stance for the time being and will weigh on the USD and see yields fall," the bank added.

The market now awaits developments in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump's upbeat assessment of the talks earlier in the week raised hopes that the two sides might still be able to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline, but headlines that came out today suggested an agreement might still be some way off.

Citing three unnamed U.S. and Chinese officials, Bloomberg reported that the two countries have made little progress so far during their discussions in Beijing this week. They have failed to narrow the gap on issues related to structural reforms to China’s economy, according to the report.

Elsewhere, the AUD/USD pair fell 0.2%. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Christopher Kent said in a speech in Melbourne Friday that he thinks recent weakness in the Aussie dollar might be helpful to the economy.

“While the exchange rate is still within the relatively narrow range of the past few years, the recent depreciation is helpful at the margin given that there remains spare capacity in the economy and inflation remains below target,” he said.

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China’s January CPI, PPI Miss Estimates

- China’s January Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) both missed expectations, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on Friday.

The country’s CPI, a key indicator to measure inflation and changes in purchasing trends, rose 1.7% in January from a year earlier, slower than the 1.9% increase in December and below market expectations for a 1.9% rise.

Meanwhile, the PPI rose 0.1% year-on-year in January, the weakest pace since September 2016 and slowing from the previous month's 0.9% increase.

The data raised concerns of heightened deflationary risks and could hurt corporate profitability.

However, tame inflation also gives authorities more flexibility to ease monetary policy which would in turn help supporting economic growth.

"With factory-gate deflation likely to deepen in the coming months, we expect policymakers to roll out further measures to ease financial pressure on industrial firms, including cuts to benchmark lending rates," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, in a Reuters report.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.6% and 0.3% by 11:03 PM ET (04:04 GMT) following the release of the data.

On Thursday, China reported better-than-expected January trade data, but analysts said the positive data was likely due to seasonal factors and business distortions caused by the long Lunar New Year holidays.

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Asian Equities Fall After Losses on Wall Street; Trade Talks Make Little Progress

- Asian equities fell in morning trade on Friday after the U.S. markets closed lower overnight following the release of U.S. retail data that showed the sector recording its biggest drop in nearly a decade.

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component were down 0.6% and 0.3% respectively by 10:00 PM ET (3:00 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 1.6%.

South Korea’s KOSPI fell 1.5%. Index heavyweights Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) and SK Hynix both fell more than 2%.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.3%. Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 edged up 0.2%.

China's Consumer Price Index came in at 1.7% higher than a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. That compared to the expected 1.9%.

Meanwhile, producer inflation rose just 0.1% from a year ago, lower than the forecasted 0.2% rise.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed lower after official data showed the country’s retail sales in December came in far below expectations.

Retail sales fell 1.2% in December, according to The Commerce Department. It was their biggest monthly drop since September 2009.

Renewed uncertainty surrounding Trade tensions between the U.S. and China also weighed on sentiment. Citing three unnamed U.S. and Chinese officials, Bloomberg reported that the two countries have made little progress so far during their discussions in Beijing this week. They have failed to narrow the gap on issues related to structural reforms to China’s economy, according to the report.

The news came one day after U.S. President Donald Trump said the talks were going “very well,” and that he is open to extend the March 1 deadline to more than double tariffs on $200 billions of Chinese goods if the two sides get closer to a deal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday. They are expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping later today, according to the South China Morning Post.

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Day Ahead: Top 3 Things to Watch

- Here’s a preview of the top 3 things that could rock markets tomorrow.

1. Consumer in Focus After Retail Plunge

Following today’s surprise tumble in retail sales for December, the market will be anxious for the latest consumer confidence figures, which arrive tomorrow.

The University of Michigan will release its preliminary measure of its February consumer sentiment index at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT).

The index is expected to edge up to 93.3 for the current month, according to economist expectations compiled by .

Consumer expectations and sentiment on current conditions are also forecast to rise.

Before that, the New York Fed will issue its measure of manufacturing in the New York region at 8:30 AM ET.

The Empire State Manufacturing index is seen rising to 7.1 in February.

2. Pepsi on Tap, Deere in the Spotlight

PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) will report earnings tomorrow before the bell, coming on the heels of Coca-Cola's (NYSE:KO) tumble today on soft guidance.

Analyst are looking for Pepsi to report a profit of $1.49 per share on sales of about $19.5 billion, according to forecasts compiled by .

As usual, focus will be more on its global snack business rather than its namesake cola. Investors will also be interested to see the performance and direction of new CEO Ramon Laguarta.

Pepsi was initiated with a neutral rating and a $123 price target by UBS in December.

Farm equipment maker Deere (NYSE:DE) will also weigh in ahead of trading.

As with all heavy equipment companies there will be great interest in any impact from the U.S.-China trade war.

Analysts, on average, predict a profit of $1.77 a share on sales of $6.85 billion.

3. Nvidia Rides High on Low Expectations

Chipmaker Nvidia could help techs tomorrow.

The company reported mixed quarterly results after the bell, but that was enough for investors who were clearly expecting the worst after the company warned on its results in January.

Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) shares jumped 8% in after-hours trading.

The company reported an adjusted fiscal fourth-quarter profit of 80 cents per share, topping expectations for 71 cents per share compiled by . Revenue of $2.21 billion was shy of forecasts of $2.3 billion.

Revenue guidance was a tad lower than forecasts.

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NVIDIA Earnings beat, Revenue misses In Q4

- NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) reported fourth quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Thursday and revenue that fell short of forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $0.8 on revenue of $2.21B. Analysts polled by expected EPS of $0.71 on revenue of $2.3B. That compared to EPS of $1.57 on revenue of $2.91B in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $1.97 on revenue of $3.18B in the previous quarter.

NVIDIA shares gained 7.11% to trade at $165.52 in after-hours trade following the report.

NVIDIA follows other major Technology sector earnings this month


On January 24, Intel reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.28 on revenue of $18.66B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.22 on revenue of $19.01B.

Cisco earnings beat analyst's expectations on Wednesday, with second quarter EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $12.45B. analysts expected EPS of $0.72 on revenue of $12.41B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Applied Materials Earnings, Revenue beat in Q1

- Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) reported first quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Thursday and revenue that topped forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $0.81 on revenue of $3.75B. Analysts polled by forecast EPS of $0.79 on revenue of $3.73B. That compared to EPS of $1.06 on revenue of $4.2B in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $0.97 on revenue of $4.01B in the previous quarter.

Applied Materials shares lost 1.74% to trade at $40.00 in after-hours trade following the report.

Applied Materials follows other major Technology sector earnings this month


On January 24, Intel reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.28 on revenue of $18.66B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.22 on revenue of $19.01B.

Cisco earnings beat analyst's expectations on Wednesday, with second quarter EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $12.45B. analysts expected EPS of $0.72 on revenue of $12.41B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Canada stocks higher at close of trade; S&P/TSX Composite up 0.46%

– Canada stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the IT, Industrials and REITs sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite rose 0.46%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/TSX Composite were Bombardier Inc (TO:BBDb), which rose 23.53% or 0.480 points to trade at 2.520 at the close. Meanwhile, Precision Drilling Corporation (TO:PD) added 14.84% or 0.42 points to end at 3.25 and Constellation Software Inc . (TO:CSU) was up 14.24% or 141.21 points to 1132.67 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Sierra Wireless Inc . (TO:SW), which fell 26.82% or 5.52 points to trade at 15.06 at the close. New Gold Inc (TO:NGD) declined 26.38% or 0.430 points to end at 1.200 and Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund (TO:CHE_u) was down 19.80% or 2.32 points to 9.40.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Toronto Stock Exchange by 599 to 481 and 121 ended unchanged.

Shares in Sierra Wireless Inc. (TO:SW) fell to 52-week lows; down 26.82% or 5.52 to 15.06. Shares in Constellation Software Inc. (TO:CSU) rose to all time highs; rising 14.24% or 141.21 to 1132.67. Shares in Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund (TO:CHE_u) fell to 5-year lows; falling 19.80% or 2.32 to 9.40.

The S&P/TSX 60 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/TSX Composite options, was up 1.65% to 15.97.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.03% or 0.35 to $1315.45 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 1.15% or 0.62 to hit $54.52 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.60% or 1.02 to trade at $64.63 a barrel.

CAD/USD was down 0.27% to 0.7523, while CAD/EUR fell 0.52% to 0.6663.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.06% at 96.875.

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Stocks - Wall Street Ends Mixed as Techs Show Strength

- Stocks finished mixed on Thursday as tech stocks gained and the broader market was pushed and pulled by weak economic data and the prospect of the U.S. government avoiding another shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.41%, the S&P 500 lost 0.27%, but closed well above session lows of 2,731.23, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.09%.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump will sign the government funding bill that would avoid a shutdown, but will use other executive measures, including declaring a national emergency, to build a border wall.

"The (p)resident is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country," Sanders said in a statement released during late trading.

The border security deal is expected to win approval in the Senate, after which it will make way to Trump's desk for his signature, averting a second partial government shutdown.

The reaction in the broader market was fairly muted, however.

A rise in tech stocks led by Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) helped the Nasdaq recover from broader weakness following data showing U.S. retail sales suffered their biggest drop since 2009.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Netflix and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) ended the day higher, but Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) closed just below the flatline.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) was also in the spotlight after it scrapped plans to build a second HQ in New York amid recent backlash from local residents and politicians. Its shares fell 1%.

Investor optimism on the U.S. and China agreeing a trade deal before the March 1 deadline continued, even as chief White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow downplayed reports of an extension.

"I can't speak to that. No such decision has been made so far," Kudlow told Fox News Channel when asked if there would be a 60-day extension.

In a sign of confidence on talks, Kudlow said "the vibe in Beijing is good" and confirmed the U.S. trade team would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.

Energy stocks, meanwhile, served up modest gains, rising just 0.15%, thanks to a 1% rise in U.S. oil prices.

On the earnings front, Canada Goose Holdings NYSE:GOOS) fell sharply after Wells Fargo warned the retailer's valuation was frothy even as it delivered blowout fiscal-third quarter earnings that topped estimates from . Its shares fell 12.7% after rising more than 10% in pre-market trading.

"While we remain confident on the trajectory of the GOOS brand and the fundamental story that has developed since their IPO in 2017, we feel the risk/reward today is not as compelling as it once was (when shares were cheaper and upside to numbers seemed easier to come by)," analyst at Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) wrote in a note.

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), Equinix (NASDAQ:EQIX) and CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), American International (NYSE:AIG) and International Flavors & Fragrances (NYSE:IFF) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

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Gold Steady as Dollar Slides on Weak U.S. Data

- Gold bugs may get a surprise break from U.S. economic weakening, but more data is needed to verify that.

The spot price of bullion was barely changed while futures of gold rose on Wednesday as the dollar slid after U.S. retail sales tumbled 1.2% in December, the Commerce Department reported. Economists had forecast a gain of 0.1% for the period.

Spot gold, reflective of trades in physical bullion, slid by 0.5 cent to $1,315.05 per ounce by 1:19 PM ET (18:19 GMT).

In futures trading, gold's benchmark April contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was up $5.79, or 0.4%, at $1,312.07 per ounce.

Producer price inflation also came out weaker than expected, while initial jobless claims were higher than expected last week.

Gold traders held out from chasing new highs to see if the US-Sino trade talks will result in a deal.

Bloomberg reported that President Donald Trump was considering a 60-day extension to the March 1 deadline requiring China to reach a trade deal with the U.S. or risk having tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods raised to 25% from 10%.

A trade delegation led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been huddled in high-level talks with Chinese counterparts, led by Vice Premier Liu He, in Beijing since Tuesday.

"Gold is paring losses on Valentine’s Day after retail sales were off and unemployment figures rose," said George Gero, precious metals analyst at RBC Wealth Management in New York. "But we still need more headlines on US-China talks, Brexit, and whether legislation will pass on averting another U.S. government shutdown to see if bullion will continue fetching a bid."

Gold prices have risen more than 12% since touching more than 1-1/2-year lows in mid-August, mostly on expectations of a pause in Fed rate hikes.

Lower rates are disadvantageous to interest-bearing assets such as the dollar, but work in favor of commodities like gold that offer a store of value to investors. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, slid 0.1% to 96.847.

But gold's run-up has also lost steam since last month when futures peaked at a 2019 high of $1,331.10.

Palladium remained the world's most valuable traded metal, with its spot price trading up $11.40, or 0.8%, at 1,411.70 per ounce, after reaching a peak of $1,414.50 earlier.

Trades in other Comex metals as of 1:19 PM ET (18:19 GMT):

Palladium futures up $13.10, or 1%, at $1,385.70 per ounce.

Silver futures down 9.9 cents, or 0.6%, at $15.55 per ounce.

Platinum futures down $3.55, or 0.5%, at $788.25 per ounce.

Copper futures down 0.02 cent, or 0.1%, at $2.77 per pound.

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Denmark stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Copenhagen 20 up 0.82%

– Denmark stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Industrials, Real Estate and Oil&Gas sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Copenhagen, the OMX Copenhagen 20 added 0.82% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Copenhagen 20 were AP Moeller - Maersk A/S B (CO:MAERSKb), which rose 3.61% or 312 points to trade at 8952 at the close. Meanwhile, Chr. Hansen Holding A/S (CO:CHRH) added 1.65% or 10.6 points to end at 654.2 and Coloplast A/S (CO:COLOb) was up 1.22% or 7.6 points to 628.2 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Ambu A/S (CO:AMBUb), which fell 2.18% or 3.5 points to trade at 156.7 at the close. Lundbeck A/S (CO:LUN) declined 1.53% or 4.4 points to end at 283.0 and GN Store Nord (CO:GN) was down 1.24% or 3.8 points to 302.0.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange by 73 to 55 and 22 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 0.87% or 0.47 to $54.37 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.26% or 0.80 to hit $64.41 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.03% or 0.45 to trade at $1314.65 a troy ounce.

USD/DKK was down 0.26% to 6.6078, while EUR/DKK rose 0.02% to 7.4611.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.06% at 96.882.

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Netherlands stocks lower at close of trade; AEX down 0.39%

– Netherlands stocks were lower after the close on Thursday, as losses in the Financials, Consumer Services and Software&Computer Services sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Amsterdam, the AEX lost 0.39%.

The best performers of the session on the AEX were Koninklijke DSM NV (AS:DSMN), which rose 8.85% or 7.48 points to trade at 92.00 at the close. Meanwhile, Akzo Nobel NV (AS:AKZO) added 1.71% or 1.32 points to end at 78.45 and Koninklijke Vopak NV (AS:VOPA) was up 1.63% or 0.70 points to 43.64 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were WFD Unibail Rodamco NV (AS:URW), which fell 5.38% or 8.16 points to trade at 143.42 at the close. Aegon NV (AS:AEGN) declined 4.80% or 0.221 points to end at 4.384 and ArcelorMittal SA (AS:MT) was down 2.22% or 0.442 points to 19.490.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange by 64 to 63 and 9 ended unchanged.

The AEX Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of AEX options, was up 7.31% to 14.53.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 0.87% or 0.47 to $54.37 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.26% or 0.80 to hit $64.41 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.04% or 0.55 to trade at $1314.55 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was up 0.20% to 1.1288, while EUR/GBP rose 0.58% to 0.8815.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.04% at 96.898.

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U.K. stocks higher at close of trade; Investing.com United Kingdom 100 up 0.34%

– U.K. stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Software&Computer Services, Pharmaceuticals&Biotech and Aerospace&Defense sectors led shares higher.

At the close in London, the United Kingdom 100 gained 0.34% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the United Kingdom 100 were Micro Focus International PLC (LON:MCRO), which rose 12.26% or 186.00 points to trade at 1703.50 at the close. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) added 7.48% or 428.00 points to end at 6149.00 and Mediclinic International PLC (LON:MDCM) was up 2.71% or 8.40 points to 318.60 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Coca Cola HBC AG (LON:CCH), which fell 8.57% or 231.0 points to trade at 2463.0 at the close. Capita PLC (LON:CPI) declined 2.79% or 3.30 points to end at 115.10 and Next PLC (LON:NXT) was down 2.68% or 133.00 points to 4826.00.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the London Stock Exchange by 1134 to 957 and 299 ended unchanged.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.04% or 0.55 to $1314.55 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 0.61% or 0.33 to hit $54.23 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.24% or 0.79 to trade at $64.40 a barrel.

GBP/USD was down 0.33% to 1.2801, while EUR/GBP rose 0.60% to 0.8817.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.02% at 96.922.

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Sweden stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Stockholm 30 up 0.24%

– Sweden stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Healthcare, Industrials and Telecoms sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Stockholm, the OMX Stockholm 30 gained 0.24% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Stockholm 30 were AstraZeneca PLC (ST:AZN), which rose 8.25% or 56.5 points to trade at 741.5 at the close. Meanwhile, ABB Ltd (ST:ABB) added 1.67% or 3.0 points to end at 179.9 and Atlas Copco AB Series B (ST:ATCOb) was up 1.38% or 3.1 points to 228.4 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Kinnevik, Investment AB ser. B (ST:KINVb), which fell 2.15% or 4.7 points to trade at 214.0 at the close. H&M Hennes&Mauritz AB B (ST:HMb) declined 2.04% or 2.9 points to end at 138.4 and SSAB AB ser. A (ST:SSABa) was down 1.67% or 0.57 points to 33.50.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Stockholm Stock Exchange by 343 to 300 and 44 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 0.71% or 0.38 to $54.28 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.35% or 0.86 to hit $64.47 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.08% or 1.05 to trade at $1314.05 a troy ounce.

EUR/SEK was up 0.56% to 10.4933, while USD/SEK rose 0.35% to 9.3005.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.01% at 96.947.

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Six Flags Takes Theme Park Stocks for a Midday Ride

- It was the drop on the rollercoaster for theme park stocks midday as Six Flags Entertainment (NYSE:SIX) slumped after its revenue came in below forecasts.

The amusement park company fell 15% after it reported revenue of $269.5 million compared to expectations for $284.25 million, according to analyst estimates.

Guest spending per capita increased 6%, while attendance rose 3%, but there was a negative adjustment of $15 million related to opening delays in China, the company said.

Elsewhere SeaWorld (NYSE:SEAS) slipped 5%, while Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) inched up 0.4% and Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) fell 1%.

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U.S. Dollar Falls After Retail Sales Slump

- The greenback fell on Thursday, then recovered slightly, as a steep decline in retail sales increased the chances of the Federal Reserve holding rates steady for longer.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, fell to 96.792 after the data before recovering to 97.03 as of 10:41 AM ET (15:41 GMT).

U.S. retail sales tumbled 1.2%, compared with forecasts for a gain of 0.1%, the Commerce Department reported. The numbers support the Fed continuing to pause rate hikes this year, as the government shutdown, slowing global economy and trade concerns could cause more consternation among American consumers.

The disappointing retail numbers offset U.S.-China trade optimism. U.S. President Donald Trump said the negotiations were going very well, while Bloomberg reported that he was considering pushing back the March 1 deadline for higher tariffs by 60 days.

The dollar was down against the safe-haven yen, with USD/JPY slipping 0.2% to 110.72. The yen is typically sought by investors as a safe haven during times of economic or market stress.

Elsewhere, the pound was lower, with GBP/USD falling 0.48% to 1.2780, as Brexit woes continued. U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to meet with the EU's Michel Barnier and European parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt next week to try and make a bid to break the impasse over the Irish backstop agreement.

The euro was higher, with EUR/USD recovering 0.11% to 1.1277.

In Australia, the AUD/USD inched up 0.01% to 0.7089 while NZD/USD jumped 0.5% to 0.6825. The loonie was lower, with USD/CAD up 0.65% to 1.3339.

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Weekly Comic: Second Trump-Kim Summit Set for End of the Month in Vietnam

- U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plan to meet again after their historic first summit last year, with stakes still high over the fate of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons.

Trump announced during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5 that the summit would take place Feb. 27 and 28.

He later said on Twitter that Hanoi, Vietnam, would host the summit.

Singapore hosted the first Trump-Kim summit in June, which ended with a vague agreement by the two countries to continue working toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The North has since claimed it destroyed missile engine and nuclear test sites, but it hasn’t let international inspectors verify that.

Trump told CBS News on Feb. 1 that there was "a good possibility" that Kim was unlikely to relinquish his nuclear weapons, but he also said that he thought there was "a very good chance that we will make a deal."

"I think he's also tired of going through what he's going through," Trump said of Kim. "He has a chance to have North Korea be a tremendous economic behemoth. It has a chance to be one of the great economic countries in the world."

To see more of ’s weekly comics, visit: http://www.investing.com/analysis/comics

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Coca-Cola Falls 7%

- Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) fell by 7.29% to trade at $46.16 by 09:33 (14:33 GMT) on Thursday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of Coca-Cola shares traded since the start of the session was 4.29M. Coca-Cola has traded in a range of $45.87 to $46.95 on the day.

The stock has traded at $49.9400 at its highest and $45.9000 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Cisco Rises 3%

- Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) rose by 3.16% to trade at $49.01 by 09:30 (14:30 GMT) on Thursday on the NASDAQ exchange.

The volume of Cisco shares traded since the start of the session was 2.15M. Cisco has traded in a range of $48.78 to $49.25 on the day.

The stock has traded at $49.2200 at its highest and $46.3000 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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U.S. Jobless Claims Rise to 239,000 in Latest Week

- The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. rose more than expected last week, while the previous week’s figure was also revised higher.

The U.S. Department of Labor said that the number of individuals applying for initial jobless benefits in the week to Feb. 9 increased to a seasonally adjusted 239,000.

Analysts expected jobless claims to decrease to 225,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 235,000.

The four-week moving average was 231,750, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week. The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data.

Continuing jobless rose to 1.773 million from 1.736 million in the preceding week, compared to expectations for an increase to 1.740 million. These claims reflect people who recently lost their jobs and are already receiving benefits.

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Saudi Arabia stocks higher at close of trade; Tadawul All Share up 0.11%

– Saudi Arabia stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, as gains in the Agriculture&Food, Telecoms&IT and Petrochemicals sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul All Share gained 0.11%.

The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were AlAhli Fund of REITs (SE:4338), which rose 3.81% or 0.29 points to trade at 7.90 at the close. Meanwhile, Allied Cooperative Insurance Group (SE:8150) added 3.14% or 0.70 points to end at 23.00 and Saudi Fisheries Co. (SE:6050) was up 2.90% or 1.90 points to 67.50 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Abdullah A. M. Al-Khodari Sons Co (SE:1330), which fell 9.98% or 0.63 points to trade at 5.68 at the close. Saudi Paper Manufacturing Co. (SE:2300) declined 2.64% or 0.34 points to end at 12.54 and United Cooperative Assurance Co (SE:8190) was down 2.60% or 0.32 points to 11.98.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 102 to 73 and 14 ended unchanged.

Shares in Abdullah A. M. Al-Khodari Sons Co (SE:1330) fell to all time lows; down 9.98% or 0.63 to 5.68.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 0.91% or 0.49 to $54.39 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.34% or 0.85 to hit $64.46 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.57% or 7.50 to trade at $1307.60 a troy ounce.

EUR/SAR was up 0.08% to 4.2259, while USD/SAR rose 0.01% to 3.7504.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.11% at 97.047.

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Stocks - Cisco Jumps in Premarket, Coca-Cola, AIG, NetApp Slide

- Stocks in focus in premarket trade Thursday:

• Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) stock jumped 4.21% by 7:50 AM ET (12:50 GMT) after the company reported better-than-expected earnings for its fiscal second quarter and guided higher for its third quarter.

• Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) stock lost 3.31% after the company reported fourth-quarter results that matched expectations but predicted that underlying earnings would be flat this year.

• AIG (NYSE:AIG) stock slumped 3.58% after the company posted a surprise quarterly loss.

• NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) stock tumbled 7.94% after the company forecast worse-than-expected revenue for the current quarter.

• Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock slipped 0.37% after the company said it launched a new “sentry mode” feature for its Model 3 vehicles, designed to improve safety for unattended cars. Separately, the South China Morning Post reported that the company was rushing deliveries of Model 3s to China before March 1, when the trade war between the U.S. and China is due to escalate.

• Fossil (NASDAQ:FOSL) stock crashed 16.61% after quarterly earnings missed on the top and bottom lines.

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) stock tumbled 9.93% after the company reported quarterly earnings that missed consensus and slashed its dividend.

Yelp (NYSE:YELP) stock rose 2.70% as the company reported quarterly earnings that smashed estimates; revenue was also better than expected.

• Antero Resources (NYSE:AR) stock may see movement in the regular session after the company reported fourth-quarter profit that topped consensus.

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Bitcoin Falls as JP Morgan Rolls Out Its Own Crypto Coin

- Cryptocurrency prices were lower on Thursday, as JP Morgan launched its own digital coin to help the bank settle payments between clients.

The token, called the “JPM Coin,” will help the bank use the technology behind digital coins to transfer money at the same speed rather than relying on the slower technology of wire transfers, CNBC reported.

While the bank’s coin is based on blockchain, which powers Bitcoin, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has often said that digital coins are a fraud.

HSBC has used a blockchain-based system to reduce the cost of settling internal foreign exchange transactions by a quarter, according to Reuters. It cleared some $250 billion in transactions using the “FX Everywhere” system last year, and processes between 3,500 and 5,000 internal trades a day. The system isn't yet available to external counterparties, although HSBC recently said it is looking at how it might benefit its multinational clients.

Bitcoin fell 0.78% to $3,592.50 as of 7:51 AM ET (12:51 GMT) on the Index.

Cryptocurrencies overall were slightly lower with total coin market capitalization at $120 billion at the time of writing, down from $121 billion on Wednesday.

Ethereum slumped 1.4% to $121.72 and XRP fell 0.88% to $0.30122 while Litecoin was at $41.171, down 3.8%.

In other news, Nasdaq is launching two new indices to track cryptocurrency prices starting Feb. 25. The Bitcoin Liquid Index (BLX) and the Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX) will provide real-time spot rates and be updated every 30 seconds.

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Duke Energy Earnings miss, Revenue beats In Q4

- Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) reported fourth quarter earnings that missed analysts' expectations on Thursday and revenue that topped forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $0.84 on revenue of $6.12B. Analysts polled by expected EPS of $0.89 on revenue of $5.85B. That compared to EPS of $0.94 on revenue of $5.85B in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $1.65 on revenue of $6.63B in the previous quarter.

Duke Energy follows other major Utilities sector earnings this month


On January 31, Enterprise Products Partners LP reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.6 on revenue of $9.18B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $0.5 on revenue of $9.44B.

Dominion Resources earnings missed analyst's expectations on February 1, with fourth quarter EPS of $0.89 on revenue of $3.36B. analysts expected EPS of $0.91 on revenue of $3.25B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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CME Group Earnings, Revenue beat in Q4

- CME Group (NASDAQ:CME) reported fourth quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Thursday and revenue that topped forecasts.

The firm reported earnings per share of $1.77 on revenue of $1.24B. Analysts polled by forecast EPS of $1.73 on revenue of $1.21B. That compared to EPS of $1.12 on revenue of $900.0M in the same period a year earlier. The company had reported EPS of $1.45 on revenue of $904.2M in the previous quarter.

CME Group follows other major Financial sector earnings this month


On January 16, Bank of America reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.7 on revenue of $22.74B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $0.63 on revenue of $22.35B.

Mastercard earnings beat analyst's expectations on January 31, with fourth quarter EPS of $1.55 on revenue of $3.81B. analysts expected EPS of $1.52 on revenue of $3.8B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Coca-Cola Shares Fall After Earnings Match Expectations

- Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) shares dipped in premarket trade on Thursday, after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings that were in line with expectations as results were impacted by bottle refranchising and currency headwinds.

The beverage and snack giant reported earnings per share of $0.43, matching estimates.

Revenue totaled $7.1 billion, roughly in line with forecasts of $7.06 billion.

Organic revenue, or sales from its core beverage business, rose 5%, led by volume growth for Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

"Our results demonstrate progress in our transformation as a consumer-centric, total beverage company and the power of a more strategically aligned system," said CEO James Quincey."

Coca-Cola's stock fell 1.7% in premarket trade to $48.90.

Coca-Cola follows other major Consumer/Non-Cyclical sector earnings this month


On February 7, Philip Morris reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.25 on revenue of $7.5B, compared to forecasts of EPS of $1.17 on revenue of $7.39B.

Altria earnings matched analyst's expectations on January 31, with fourth quarter EPS of $0.95 on revenue of $4.79B. analysts expected EPS of $0.95 on revenue of $4.81B

Stay up-to-date on all of the upcoming earnings reports by visiting 's earnings calendar

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Stocks - U.S. Futures Jump on News of Possible Trade Extension

– U.S. futures rose on Thursday, as investor sentiment improved on news that U.S. President Donald Trump is considering extending a deadline for fresh tariffs on Chinese imports.

Trump could extend the March 1 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25% from 10%, by 60-days, Bloomberg reported earlier.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday with Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The S&P 500 futures rose 8 points or 0.30% as of 6:40 AM ET (11:40 GMT) while Dow futures gained 97 points or 0.38% and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures increased 27 points or 0.39%.

Avon Products (NYSE:AVP) jumped 10% in premarket trading, ahead of its earnings release later in the day. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) rose 4% after it reported financial results ahead of expectations and raised its earnings guidance. Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) rose 1.19%, while Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) inched up 0.5%.

Elsewhere, Fossil Group (NASDAQ:FOSL) slumped 17% after its fourth-quarter earnings were lower than expected, while CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) slipped 11% after it slashed its dividend and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) was down 0.15%.

Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) was down 0.6% after it reported earnings that were in line with forecasts.

In other earnings news, Canada Goose (NYSE:GOOS), Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) and Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) are among those due to report on Thursday.

In commodities, gold futures slipped 0.5% to a three-day low of $1,308.55 a troy ounce, while crude oil rose 1% to a one-and-half-week high of $54.48 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.06% to 96.995.

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Top 5 Things to Know in The Market on Thursday

- Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, February 14:

1. Trump Considers 60-Day Extension for China Tariff Deadline

U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a 60-day extension of a March 1 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25% from 10%.

Ongoing trade talks between the U.S. and China continued in Beijing Thursday, as a trade delegation led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sat down with Chinese counterparts, led by Vice Premier Liu He.

The talks, scheduled to run through Friday, follow three days of deputy-level meetings to work out technical details, including a mechanism for enforcing any trade agreement.

2. U.S. Futures Point to Higher Open

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open, as progress in the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks boosted sentiment.

At 5:30AM ET (10:30 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures were up 76 points, or about 0.3%, the S&P 500 futures tacked on 6 points, or around 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 23 points, or roughly 0.3%.

Elsewhere, European stocks were higher across the board, as strong results from Nestle (SIX:NESN), AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) and Airbus (PA:AIR) helped ease concerns over slowing corporate profits.

Among national indices, Germany's DAX was a tad higher as investors breathed a sigh of relief that the euro zone's biggest economy escaped recession towards the end of last year.

In London, the FTSE 100 inched up ahead of another parliamentary vote on the next steps in the Brexit process, due to take place later in the session.

Earlier, stocks in China closed mixed despite the country's trade data for January coming in stronger-than-expected.

3. Coca-Cola, NVIDIA Highlight Another Busy Day of Earnings

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) are among some of the last notable names slated to report quarterly results, as the fourth-quarter earnings season winds down.

The beverage giant is expected to post earnings of $0.43 per share on revenue of $7.06 billion, according to analysts polled by , when it reports before the opening bell.

Meanwhile, NVIDIA, which releases its results after the close, is forecast to report EPS of $0.71 and revenue of $2.3 billion.

Other notable companies reporting results today include Canada Goose (NYSE:GOOS), Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), CBS (NYSE:CBS), Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET), Cyberark (NASDAQ:CYBR), Six Flags (NYSE:SIX), CME Group (NASDAQ:CME), Avon Products (NYSE:AVP), Bloomin Brands (NASDAQ:BLMN), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), and Vulcan Materials (NYSE:VMC).

Read more: Nvidia Warned Us Earnings Are Bad; Watch For Signs Of Demand Recovery: Haris Anwar

4. U.S. Retail Sales

On the data front, the Commerce Department will publish a report on retail sales for December at 8:30AM ET (13:30 GMT), which investors will be eyeing for further signs on the strength of the American consumer.

The consensus forecast is that the report will show retail sales rose 0.1%. Excluding the automobile sector, sales are expected to post a flat reading.

Today's calendar will also bring investors the January report on producer prices, weekly jobless claims figures as well as the latest update on business inventories.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was a shade higher at 97.04, its best level since Dec. 17.

In the bond market, U.S. Treasury prices edged higher, pushing yields lower across the curve, with the benchmark 10-year yield falling to 2.69%.

5. Brent Oil Hits 2019 High

In commodities, crude oil prices rose to their highest levels of the year amid signs of rising demand from China.

China's crude oil imports in January rose 4.8% from a year earlier to an average of 10.03 million barrels per day (bpd), the third straight month that imports have exceeded the 10 million bpd mark.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $64.31 per barrel, up 71 cents, or 1.1%. they earlier rose to their strongest level since Nov. 20 at $64.81.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $54.28 per barrel, up 38 cents, or 0.7%, from their last settlement.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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MarketPulse Europe - Nestle Shows Where the Growth Is

-- It’s all about growth.

On a day when Europe’s largest economy confirmed it didn’t grow at all in the last quarter of 2018, shares in Nestle (SIX:NESN) rose over 2.9% to an all-time high, as it posted its first rise in organic sales growth in six years.

The company’s turnaround under CEO Marc Schneider appears to be gathering pace as it adapts to changing consumer tastes and sheds underperforming assets. That means there’s more money for shareholders, earlier than they expected: Nestle is raising its dividend by 4% and accelerating its 20 billion-franc stock buyback program.

While Nestle’s figures owe a lot to company-specific actions such as disposals and more leverage, they reflect a trend that is fast becoming one of the themes of 2019: the more sales you have outside of a stagnating Europe, the better are your chances of growing.

Nestle is following where Europe’s luxury goods makers – who make most of their money in North America and China - have led so far this year. Nestle too said that growth was strongest in the U.S. and Asia.

Contrast that with the news on the home front: Germany’s fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth was revised to zero Thursday. Elsewhere in Europe, domestic-focused sectors like banks are trailing local markets in both Spain and Italy this morning (although Commerzbank (DE:CBKG), a domestic-focused German bank, has bounced 2.7% after beating some very low expectations).

But hopes on an agreement in the U.S.-China trade dispute continue to support the general mood: the broad-based Euro Stoxx 600 was up 0.5% at 366.74, while Germany’s DAX was up 0.5% at 11,216 and the U.K. FTSE 100 was up 0.4% at 7220.03

Elsewhere, Airbus (PA:AIR)soared 5.3% after it said it would end production of A380 superjumbo, while Juventus (MI:JUVE) was up 1.1% after it successfully sold 175 million euros of bonds at a rate of around 3.5%, allowing it to repay more expensive bank loans. That’s despite the bonds not carrying a rating.

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Euro, Pound hit Multi-Week Lows as Dollar Remains Firm

- The euro and the British pound fell to multi-week lows against the firmer U.S. dollar on Thursday as weak economic data out of the euro zone and concerns over Brexit weighed.

EUR/USD dipped 0.1% to 1.1249 by 03:44 AM ET (08:44 GMT), the weakest level since mid-November after data showing that Germany’s GDP was flat in the fourth quarter, after a 0.2% contraction in the previous quarter.

That means the euro area’s largest economy just managed to avoid a technical recession, but has also failed to expand since June. The data underlines expectations the European Central Bank will remain highly accommodative this year.

Demand for the greenback continued to be underpinned after data pointing to sustained strength in core U.S. inflation.

While headline U.S. inflation logged its weakest pace in 1-1/2-years in January, traders focused on the core price gauge, which was up for the third straight month, giving the dollar some impetus.

The greenback was hit earlier this year by the Federal Reserve's shift to a cautious policy stance. However, the latest data suggest the central bank will need to stay vigilant on pricing pressures even as it adjusts to heightened growth risks.

"The trend in core U.S. inflation remains steady, against some concerns of a potential decline..indeed at 2.2 percent year-on-year, the current reading is up from the 1.8 percent reading a year ago," said Rodrigo Catril, senior currency strategist at NAB. "Overall the data suggest that we cannot rule out a resumption of Fed rate hikes later in the year."

The pound was on the back foot, with GBP/USD down 0.14% to a one-month low of 1.2824 ahead of a parliamentary vote later in the day on Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for an agreement with the European Union on the terms of its withdrawal from the bloc. Britain is due to quit the EU on March 29.

The dollar was holding steady against the yen, with USD/JPY at 111.03.

Risk appetite continued to remain supported by growing expectations of a breakthrough in the trade impasse between U.S. and China.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are in Beijing for high level talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the talks with China were "going along very well" as they try to resolve the tariff dispute ahead of a March 1 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25% from 10%.

Bloomberg reported earlier that Trump is considering a 60-day extension to that deadline if he sees enough progress being made.

The U.S. dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, ticked up to 97.02 having gained 0.45% in the previous session. The index has rallied 1.7% so far this month, after two consecutive months of losses.

The Australian dollar, often considered a barometer for global risk appetite, was higher for a second day, with AUD/USD rising 0.25% to 0.7105 on optimism about the China-U.S. trade talks. The strength in the Aussie was also buoyed by stronger-than-expected economic data out of China, Australia's largest trade partner.

China's January dollar-denominated exports rose 9.1% from a year earlier, while imports dropped 1.5%, both beating analysts' expectations, official data showed on Thursday.

- Reuters contributed to this report

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Gold Prices Fall as Risk Appetite Improve on Positive Trade News

- Gold prices fell on Thursday in Asia as investors’ appetite for risk assets improved following more positive news on the trade front.

In futures trading, gold's benchmark April contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange was down 0.3% at $1,311.05 per ounce by 1:45 AM ET (06:45 GMT).

Gold prices fell as traders awaited the outcome of trade negotiations in China led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Liu He are scheduled to meet a U.S. delegation that includes Lighthizer and Mnuchin in Beijing on Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is considering extending the March 1 deadline for a tariff increase by 60 days.

Separately, Trump told reporters on Wednesday that trade talks are making good progress. “I think it’s going along very well,” said Trump. “They’re showing us tremendous respect.”

In recent days, both the greenback and the precious metal have seen choppy moves as investors reacted to Trump's decision at first to forego a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, then express his continued desire to strike a deal with China.

The U.S. dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies was trading near flat at 96.917.

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Asian Stocks Mixed; Chinese Equities Advance on Positive January Trade Data

- Asian stocks were mixed in afternoon trade on Thursday as traders waited for further news on the latest Sino-U.S. trade negotiations.

Chinese equities outperformed their regional peers after official data showed better-than-expected trade figures for January.

Exports unexpectedly grew 9.1% in January from a year earlier, beating the expectation of a 3.2% drop, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.

Imports also only fell 1.5%, much less than the expected 10% fall and narrowing from December’s 7.6% drop.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $39.16 billion for the month, better than forecasts of $33.5 billion.

The Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component opened near flat but gained 0.2% and 1.0% respectively by 1:30 AM ET (06:30 GMT) following the release of the data. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.1%.

Investor sentiment were also boosted after Bloomberg reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is considering extending the March 1 deadline for a tariff increase by 60 days.

His comments contrasted with earlier comments from the White House that described March 1 as a "hard deadline."

Separately, Trump told reporters on Wednesday that trade talks are making good progress. “I think it’s going along very well,” said Trump. “They’re showing us tremendous respect.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing on Friday, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people.

"Investors are once again cautiously optimistic that progress will be made and realistically an extension of the tariff deadline will be seen as a good result," said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities, in a Reuters report.

"Longer term, only evidence of a solid deal going forward will dispel the investor caution and global growth fears that have been such a feature over the last year," Twidale added.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded near flat after government data showed earlier in the day that the country's gross domestic product grew at an annualised rate of 1.4% in the October to December period last year.

The 1.4% expansion is in line with analysts’ expectation and followed a revised 2.6% annualised contraction in the July-September period.

The data also showed real exports rose 0.9% in October-December from the previous quarter, which was the fastest gain in a year.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.4%, while Australia ASX 200 edged down 0.1%.

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Crypto Flat; Nasdaq to Launch Crypto-Tracking Indices

– Prices of major digital coins stayed largely flat in Asia on Thursday, with reports that Nasdaq will launch two new indices to track cryptocurrency prices on Feb. 25 having little impact on prices.

On Tuesday, Nasdaq said it will launch the Bitcoin Liquid Index (BLX) and the Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX) to “provide a real-time spot or reference rate for the price of 1 Bitcoin and 1 Ethereum respectively, quoted in USD” for clients using its Global Index Data Service. The data will be updated every thirty seconds.

“The BLX is one of the most widely-referenced Bitcoin indices among crypto traders and has been calculated back to 2010. Likewise, the ELX has been calculated back to 2014,” said the stock exchange operator.

On Thursday morning in Asia, Bitcoin slid 0.74% to $3,614.4 by 11:11 PM ET (04:11 GMT). The world’s largest digital coin was still holding above $3,600.

Ethereum traded 0.13% lower to $123.59, XRP slipped 0.87% to $ 0.30318 and Litecoin lost 5.65% to $41.741.

The total coin market capitalization stood at around $121 billion.

In a separate development, Hester Peirce, from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said the “arcane rules” of her organization are dragging the process of greenlighting a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

“We have applications. … those are subject to a very specific time frame where we have to act within a certain amount of time, and so that’s what it’s going to depend on. And those are very arcane rules as to whether it happens or not, so I can’t speculate on the timing,” Peirce said at an event at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Her comments implied that an approval for a Bitcoin ETF is unlikely. Peirce is known as a supporter of cryptocurrencies. Many had hoped that an approval for a Bitcoin ETF would send crypto prices higher.

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Australia stocks lower at close of trade; S&P/ASX 200 down 0.07%

– Australia stocks were lower after the close on Thursday, as losses in the Telecoms Services, Gold and Utilities sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.07%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/ASX 200 were Breville Group Ltd (AX:BRG), which rose 18.01% or 2.150 points to trade at 14.090 at the close. Meanwhile, Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd (AX:CWY) added 13.11% or 0.255 points to end at 2.200 and Magellan Financial Group Ltd (AX:MFG) was up 9.90% or 2.890 points to 32.090 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Unibail Rodamco Westfield (AX:URW), which fell 8.39% or 1.03 points to trade at 11.25 at the close. Pact Group Holdings Ltd (AX:PGH) declined 7.72% or 0.250 points to end at 2.990 and AMP Ltd (AX:AMP) was down 7.38% or 0.180 points to 2.260.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Sydney Stock Exchange by 574 to 529 and 358 ended unchanged.

Shares in Breville Group Ltd (AX:BRG) rose to all time highs; gaining 18.01% or 2.150 to 14.090. Shares in Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd (AX:CWY) rose to 5-year highs; gaining 13.11% or 0.255 to 2.200. Shares in Pact Group Holdings Ltd (AX:PGH) fell to all time lows; falling 7.72% or 0.250 to 2.990. Shares in Magellan Financial Group Ltd (AX:MFG) rose to all time highs; gaining 9.90% or 2.890 to 32.090.

The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was down 3.45% to 12.686.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.24% or 3.15 to $1311.95 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 0.74% or 0.40 to hit $54.30 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.88% or 0.56 to trade at $64.17 a barrel.

AUD/USD was up 0.49% to 0.7123, while AUD/JPY rose 0.52% to 79.08.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.06% at 96.882.

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Asian Equities Mixed Ahead of China Trade Data; Trade Talks in Focus

- Asian stocks were mixed in morning trade on Thursday as traders await China trade data and the outcome of the latest Sino-U.S. trade negotiations.

The Shanghai Composite was trading near flat while the Shenzhen Component edged up 0.1% by 9:30 PM ET (02:30 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.6%.

Investor sentiment improved somewhat after U.S. President Donald Trump said trade talks are making good progress. “I think it’s going along very well,” Trump told reporters. “They’re showing us tremendous respect.”

In a surprise move, Trump said on Wednesday that he is open to extending the March 1 deadline for a tariff increase, if China and the U.S. get closer to a trade agreement, though there’s little signal so far that an accord is near.

His comments contrasted with earlier comments from the White House that described March 1 as a "hard deadline."

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Beijing on Friday, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people.

"Investors are once again cautiously optimistic that progress will be made and realistically an extension of the tariff deadline will be seen as a good result," said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities, in a Reuters report.

"Longer term, the only evidence of a solid deal going forward will dispel the investor caution and global growth fears that have been such a feature over the last year," Twidale added.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 0.1% higher after government data showed earlier in the day that the country's gross domestic product grew at an annualised rate of 1.4% in the October to December period last year.

The 1.4% expansion is in line with analysts’ expectation and followed a revised 2.6% annualised contraction in the July-September period.

The data also showed real exports rose 0.9% in October-December from the previous quarter, which was the fastest gain in a year.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.4%, while Australia ASX 200 edged up 0.1%.

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Stocks Moving After Hours: Cisco, MGM Resorts, Century Link, NetApp, T-Mobile

- Stocks moving after hours.

- Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) rose 3.9% after the maker of networking systems reported better-than-expected earnings for its fiscal second quarter and guided higher for its third quarter.

- MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) edged up 0.4% after the casino operator reported fourth-quarter revenue grew 15%. The company reported a loss for the quarter, driven by a non-cash expense.

- CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) shares slumped 8% after announcing it is cutting its dividend from $2.16 to $1 a share. The telecommunications company reported non-GAAP earnings of 37 cents a share. Analysts polled by had expected 39 cents. Revenue of $5.8 billion was in line with estimates, but down 3.7% from a year ago.

- NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) shares fell 7.9% after fiscal third-quarter revenue of $1.56 billion missed the $1.6 billion estimate. Earnings of $1.20 a share beat the estimate of $1.15.

- T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS) slipped after hours, then recovered after company executives and executives from Sprint (NYSE:S) defended their proposed merger before a House subcommittee, saying a strong No. 3 wireless company was good for competition. In regular trading, T-Mobile was off 0.76%.

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U.S. stocks higher at close of trade; Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.46%

– U.S. stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Oil&Gas, Industrials and Consumer Services sectors led shares higher.

At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.46% to hit a new 1-month high, while the S&P 500 index climbed 0.30%, and the NASDAQ Composite index climbed 0.08%.

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD), which rose 1.56% or 2.89 points to trade at 188.41 at the close. Meanwhile, 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) added 1.52% or 3.15 points to end at 209.72 and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ:WBA) was up 1.22% or 0.87 points to 72.43 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CSCO), which fell 0.81% or 0.39 points to trade at 47.50 at the close. Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) declined 0.42% or 0.71 points to end at 170.18 and DowDuPont Inc (NYSE:DWDP) was down 0.41% or 0.22 points to 53.14.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were Freeport-McMoran Copper&Gold Inc (NYSE:FCX) which rose 6.96% to 12.29, Activision Blizzard Inc (NASDAQ:ATVI) which was up 6.96% to settle at 44.57 and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (NYSE:HLT) which gained 6.79% to close at 79.37.

The worst performers were DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) which was down 7.68% to 28.86 in late trade, TripAdvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP) which lost 5.71% to settle at 56.94 and Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) which was down 3.21% to 56.93 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were Electrameccanica Vehicles Corp (NASDAQ:SOLO) which rose 220.74% to 4.3300, Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PTX) which was up 52.94% to settle at 1.820 and Lattice Semiconductor Corporation (NASDAQ:LSCC) which gained 29.58% to close at 10.60.

The worst performers were Yangtze River Port and Logistics Ltd (NASDAQ:YRIV) which was down 24.26% to 0.61 in late trade, Aethlon Medical Inc (NASDAQ:AEMD) which lost 21.67% to settle at 0.940 and Phunware Inc (NASDAQ:PHUN) which was down 15.48% to 95.85 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 1919 to 1094 and 99 ended unchanged; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1528 rose and 1089 declined, while 91 ended unchanged.

Shares in Yangtze River Port and Logistics Ltd (NASDAQ:YRIV) fell to 3-years lows; down 24.26% or 0.19 to 0.61. Shares in Lattice Semiconductor Corporation (NASDAQ:LSCC) rose to 5-year highs; gaining 29.58% or 2.42 to 10.60.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was up 1.43% to 15.65.

Gold Futures for April delivery was down 0.43% or 5.65 to $1308.35 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 1.73% or 0.92 to hit $54.02 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 2.05% or 1.28 to trade at $63.70 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.49% to 1.1268, while USD/JPY rose 0.49% to 111.03.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.49% at 96.975.

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Stocks - Dow Racks up Triple-Digit Gains as Trade Hopes Trigger Rally

– The Dow rallied Wednesday on growing hopes the U.S. and China will reach an agreement after President Donald Trump said trade talks were going "very well."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.46%, or 117 points. The S&P 500 added 0.30% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.08%.

Trump said the high-level parley on trade between U.S. and China was progressing "well," easing investor worries that both nations would be unable to reach a trade agreement by end of the current trade war truce on March 1.

The president's somewhat reassuring remarks on trade come a day after he told reporters he was open to extending the deadline beyond March 1 if there is sufficient progress on the talks.

The upbeat hopes of a trade deal and strong gains in General Electric (NYSE:GE) supported trade-sensitive industrials sector.

GE rose 3.91% a day after Reuters reported the conglomerate had secured the most orders for electricity-generating gas turbines in 2018. But Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems beat General Electric to the top spot for orders of the largest and most advanced turbines.

Beyond trade, rising energy stocks powered the broader market higher. The gains reflected rising oil prices as Saudi Arabia's pledge to continue cutting output offset data showing a larger-than-expected build in domestic crude stockpiles.

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Cisco Shares Rise on Top and Bottom Line Beats

- Investors were cheered by Cisco Systems' (NASDAQ:CSCO) second-quarter results and its guidance, as the stock rose in after-hours trading.

Shares of Cisco gained 3.3% postmarket.

The company reported earnings per share of $0.73 on revenue of $12.45 billion. Analysts polled by expected EPS of $0.72 on revenue of $12.41 billon.

That compared to EPS of $0.63 on revenue of $11.89 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Looking ahead, Cisco predicts fiscal third-quarter adjusted earnings per share of $0.76 to $0.78, in line with analysts' forecasts, according to Briefing.com.

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MoviePass Set for New Beginning as Owner Helios&Matheson Delists

- Helios and Matheson shares were suspended Wednesday, bringing an end to its 15-year journey as a listed company.

The suspension of its shares comes a day after Helios was delisted from the Nasdaq. The shares started trading over the counter, the company said.

This may be the end of Helios and Matheson as a publicly listed company, but it marks the start of a new chapter for its subscription services business MoviePass Entertainment, which it acquired in December 2017.

Helios and Matheson said in October last year it would spin off MoviePass in a bid to separate the subscription services unit from the company's data analytics business.

MoviePass has been a problem child for Helios and Matheson as its $9.99 per month all-you-can-eat movie subscription model was fraught with issues.

The MoviePass app was clunky, much to the chagrin of customers. A move to cut back on the number of films customers could see in theaters using the subscription proved fatal as it came at a time when rivals, including AMC (NYSE:AMC), launched similar subscription plans.

But free from the shackles of Helios and Matheson, with discretion over its subscription plans, MoviePass is expected to adopt a simpler model to reel in subscribers.

MoviePass will adopt a bait-the-hook approach, or, more aptly, bait the screen with movies that MoviePass subscribers will pay to see in a bid to avoid some of the earlier pitfalls.

The road to new beginnings for MoviePass, however, is far from smooth as the experience of going to a movie theater is losing its luster to online streaming companies like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), according to a report.

"At $46 (billion), global subscription (over-the-top content delivered by the internet) revenues will overtake box office revenues in 2019 when theatrical takings will come in at just under $40 (billion)," according to Ampere Analysis.

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NVIDIA Rises 3%

- NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) rose by 3.04% to trade at $155.76 by 14:58 (19:58 GMT) on Wednesday on the NASDAQ exchange.

The volume of NVIDIA shares traded since the start of the session was 11.19M. NVIDIA has traded in a range of $151.81 to $155.78 on the day.

The stock has traded at $155.8100 at its highest and $144.1300 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Dollar Shrugs off Mixed U.S. Inflation as Euro Falls on Growth Worries

– The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies Wednesday, shrugging mixed U.S. inflation data as the euro slipped on fresh signs of stuttering eurozone growth.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, rose 0.34% to 97.03.

The Labor Department said on Thursday its consumer price index was flat for January, after edging up 0.1% in the prior month. But core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 2.2% for the year through January, above forecasts for a 2.1% increase.

"The details of the report were mixed, but generally firm on net, with acceleration in the persistent shelter categories and further increases in the medical care services category," Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) said. "The CPI components relevant for the PCE report were on net firmer than we expected."

A 0.38% slip in the EUR/USD to $1.1282 also supported dollar strength as industrial production in the eurozone undershot economists' estimates, fueling investor concerns of an accelerated slowdown in the euro area.

GBP/USD fell 0.24% to $1.2861 as U.K. inflation data undershot economists' forecasts and Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated her government still planned to exit European Union on March 29.

Some had expected the U.K. would request the March deadline be extended to allow May more time to secure changes from the EU to the Irish backstop measure included in the withdrawal deal.

USD/JPY rose 0.41% to Y110.96, while USD/CAD rose 0.04%. The latter pair was supported by rise in oil prices after Saudi Arabia pledged to cut output.

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Denmark stocks lower at close of trade; OMX Copenhagen 20 down 0.05%

– Denmark stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Real Estate, Financials and Consumer Services sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Copenhagen, the OMX Copenhagen 20 lost 0.05% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Copenhagen 20 were Genmab (CO:GEN), which rose 2.19% or 21.4 points to trade at 997.6 at the close. Meanwhile, William Demant Holding AS (CO:WDH) added 1.00% or 2.2 points to end at 222.4 and Vestas Wind Systems A/S (CO:VWS) was up 0.76% or 4.2 points to 553.8 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were DSV (CO:DSV), which fell 3.00% or 16.0 points to trade at 517.8 at the close. FLSmidth&Co. (CO:FLS) declined 1.19% or 3.7 points to end at 306.2 and Danske Bank A/S (CO:DANSKE) was down 0.93% or 1.1 points to 122.8.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange by 81 to 48 and 18 ended unchanged.

Shares in Vestas Wind Systems A/S (CO:VWS) rose to 52-week highs; gaining 0.76% or 4.2 to 553.8.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 2.07% or 1.10 to $54.20 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.00% or 1.25 to hit $63.67 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.06% or 0.75 to trade at $1314.75 a troy ounce.

USD/DKK was up 0.44% to 6.6174, while EUR/DKK rose 0.02% to 7.4621.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.40% at 96.887.

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Netherlands stocks higher at close of trade; AEX up 0.37%

– Netherlands stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Technology, Industrials and Healthcare sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Amsterdam, the AEX rose 0.37%.

The best performers of the session on the AEX were Heineken (AS:HEIN), which rose 6.00% or 4.88 points to trade at 86.24 at the close. Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal SA (AS:MT) added 3.69% or 0.710 points to end at 19.932 and Akzo Nobel NV (AS:AKZO) was up 3.27% or 2.44 points to 77.13 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were ABN AMRO Group NV (AS:ABNd), which fell 7.72% or 1.69 points to trade at 20.21 at the close. Koninklijke Vopak NV (AS:VOPA) declined 2.41% or 1.06 points to end at 42.94 and Koninklijke DSM NV (AS:DSMN) was down 1.51% or 1.30 points to 84.52.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange by 76 to 51 and 10 ended unchanged.

The AEX Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of AEX options, was up 0.30% to 13.54.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 2.13% or 1.13 to $54.23 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.05% or 1.28 to hit $63.70 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.06% or 0.75 to trade at $1314.75 a troy ounce.

EUR/USD was down 0.43% to 1.1275, while EUR/GBP fell 0.12% to 0.8771.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.41% at 96.895.

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Germany stocks higher at close of trade; DAX up 0.37%

– Germany stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Basic Resources, Technology and Construction sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Frankfurt, the DAX rose 0.37%, while the MDAX index gained 0.61%, and the TecDAX index gained 0.43%.

The best performers of the session on the DAX were Continental AG O.N. (DE:CONG), which rose 1.98% or 2.65 points to trade at 136.65 at the close. Meanwhile, Heidelbergcement AG O.N. (DE:HEIG) added 1.87% or 1.100 points to end at 60.060 and Daimler AG NA O.N. (DE:DAIGn) was up 1.69% or 0.835 points to 50.220 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Wirecard AG (DE:WDIG), which fell 4.88% or 4.970 points to trade at 96.880 at the close. Thyssenkrupp AG O.N. (DE:TKAG) declined 4.53% or 0.650 points to end at 13.690 and RWE AG ST O.N. (DE:RWEG) was down 1.34% or 0.300 points to 22.110.

The top performers on the MDAX were Osram Licht AG (DE:OSRn) which rose 14.32% to 40.00, Kion Group AG (DE:KGX) which was up 7.03% to settle at 53.62 and Norma Group AG NA O.N. (DE:NOEJ) which gained 6.30% to close at 46.600.

The worst performers were Zalando SE (DE:ZALG) which was down 4.68% to 25.68 in late trade, Commerzbank AG O.N. (DE:CBKG) which lost 2.92% to settle at 6.223 and Evotec AG O.N. (DE:EVTG) which was down 1.57% to 20.120 at the close.

The top performers on the TecDAX were Kloeckner&Co SE NA (DE:KCOGn) which rose 7.51% to 6.6550, Jenoptik AG (DE:JENGn) which was up 4.35% to settle at 30.680 and Nordex SE O.N. (DE:NDXG) which gained 4.07% to close at 10.315.

The worst performers were Zooplus AG (DE:ZO1G) which was down 3.13% to 108.50 in late trade, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen O.N. (DE:HDDG) which lost 2.25% to settle at 1.6040 and Bertrandt AG (DE:BDTG) which was down 1.86% to 73.750 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by 410 to 296 and 72 ended unchanged.

Shares in Thyssenkrupp AG O.N. (DE:TKAG) fell to 52-week lows; down 4.53% or 0.650 to 13.690.

The DAX volatility index, which measures the implied volatility of DAX options, was up 1.03% to 16.69.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.12% or 1.55 to $1315.55 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 2.20% or 1.17 to hit $54.27 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 2.10% or 1.31 to trade at $63.73 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.34% to 1.1285, while EUR/GBP fell 0.11% to 0.8772.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.32% at 96.812.

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Sweden stocks higher at close of trade; OMX Stockholm 30 up 0.59%

– Sweden stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Oil&Gas, Technology and Consumer Goods sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Stockholm, the OMX Stockholm 30 added 0.59% to hit a new 3-months high.

The best performers of the session on the OMX Stockholm 30 were Swedish Match AB (ST:SWMA), which rose 9.62% or 39.2 points to trade at 446.5 at the close. Meanwhile, Tele2 AB (ST:TEL2b) added 3.27% or 3.75 points to end at 118.50 and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Class B (ST:ERICb) was up 2.90% or 2.43 points to 86.19 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Atlas Copco AB Series B (ST:ATCOb), which fell 1.21% or 2.8 points to trade at 225.3 at the close. Atlas Copco AB Class A (ST:ATCOa) declined 1.19% or 2.9 points to end at 241.1 and AstraZeneca PLC (ST:AZN) was down 0.90% or 6.2 points to 685.0.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Stockholm Stock Exchange by 329 to 288 and 61 ended unchanged.

Shares in Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Class B (ST:ERICb) rose to 3-years highs; gaining 2.90% or 2.43 to 86.19.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 2.28% or 1.21 to $54.31 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 2.16% or 1.35 to hit $63.77 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.13% or 1.65 to trade at $1315.65 a troy ounce.

EUR/SEK was down 0.43% to 10.4397, while USD/SEK fell 0.10% to 9.2497.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.32% at 96.812.

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Gold Steady in Cautious Trade With All Eyes on China

- China is the watchword for the gold market as Donald Trump's eagerness to strike a trade deal with Beijing holds precious metals in check.

The spot price and futures of bullion were little changed on Wednesday as traders awaited developments on negotiations in China led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The spot gold contract, reflective of trades in physical bullion, rose $3.11, or 0.2%, to $1,313.91 per ounce by 11:30 AM ET (16:30 GMT).

In futures trading, gold's benchmark April contract on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $3.15, or 0.2%, to $1,317.15 per ounce.

Aside from the dollar, gold has become one of the safe-haven plays for investors seeking a hedge against the trade war.

In recent days, both the greenback and the precious metal have seen choppy moves as investors reacted to Trump's decision at first to forego a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, then express his continued desire to strike a deal with China.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, rose 0.3% to 96.822.

Mnuchin said on Wednesday the talks with China were going well. Trump himself has no made no secret of how much he would want an agreement with Beijing, with Forbes reporting he might be ready to let slide the March 1 deadline he had for a deal before China faces additional tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods it exports to the U.S.

"Things are going well with China," the president told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. "China wants to make a deal very badly. I want it to be a real deal, not just a deal that makes (it) -- you know, cosmetically look good for a year. We have a chance to make a real deal with China.”

Gold futures hit highs above $1,300 for five-consecutive sessions through Jan. 31, peaking at $1,331.10, before profit-taking set it back.

Palladium remained the world's most valuable traded metal, with its spot price trading up $1.20, or 0.1%, at 1,404.30 after reaching $1,415.25 earlier.

Trades in other Comex metals as of 11:30 AM ET (16:30 GMT):

Palladium futures up $1.70, or 0.1%, at $1,377.10 per ounce.

Silver futures down 0.8 cent, or 0.05%, at $15.68 per ounce.

Platinum futures up 35 cents, or 0.04%, at $789.95 per ounce.

Copper futures down 0.5 cent, or 0.2%, at $2.77 per pound.

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Russia stocks lower at close of trade; MOEX Russia down 1.88%

– Russia stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Oil&Gas, Mining and Telecoms sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Moscow, the MOEX Russia declined 1.88%.

The best performers of the session on the MOEX Russia were Yandex NV (MCX:YNDX), which rose 1.26% or 28.00 points to trade at 2258.00 at the close. Meanwhile, United Company Rusal Plc (MCX:RUAL) added 1.09% or 0.355 points to end at 33.005 and Rosseti ao (MCX:RSTI) was up 0.76% or 0.0075 points to 0.9885 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were NK Rosneft PAO (MCX:ROSN), which fell 3.11% or 12.90 points to trade at 401.60 at the close. Tatneft-3 (MCX:TATN) declined 2.92% or 22.90 points to end at 761.60 and Gazprom PAO (MCX:GAZP) was down 2.69% or 4.41 points to 159.27.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Moscow Stock Exchange by 159 to 63 and 14 ended unchanged.

Shares in Rosseti ao (MCX:RSTI) rose to 52-week highs; up 0.76% or 0.0075 to 0.9885.

The Russian VIX, which measures the implied volatility of MOEX Russia options, was up 0.48% to 22.920.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.20% or 2.65 to $1316.65 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 1.96% or 1.04 to hit $54.14 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.86% or 1.16 to trade at $63.58 a barrel.

USD/RUB was down 0.01% to 65.8773, while EUR/RUB fell 0.43% to 74.3353.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.32% at 96.812.

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General Electric Rises 3%

- General Electric (NYSE:GE) rose by 3.01% to trade at $10.28 by 11:18 (16:18 GMT) on Wednesday on the NYSE exchange.

The volume of General Electric shares traded since the start of the session was 34.16M. General Electric has traded in a range of $9.95 to $10.28 on the day.

The stock has traded at $10.9100 at its highest and $9.5400 at its lowest during the past seven days.

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Israel stocks higher at close of trade; TA 35 up 0.35%

– Israel stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Real Estate, Communication and Banking sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Tel Aviv, the TA 35 rose 0.35%.

The best performers of the session on the TA 35 were Mizrahi Tefahot (TA:MZTF), which rose 2.62% or 171 points to trade at 6701 at the close. Meanwhile, Israel Corp (TA:ILCO) added 2.25% or 2250 points to end at 102200 and ICL Israel Chemicals Ltd (TA:ICL) was up 1.91% or 38 points to 2025 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TA:TEVA), which fell 7.69% or 535 points to trade at 6424 at the close. Delek Group (TA:DLEKG) declined 2.61% or 1660 points to end at 61880 and Delek Drilling LP (TA:DEDRp) was down 0.18% or 2 points to 1135.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by 251 to 124 and 40 ended unchanged.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 2.00% or 1.06 to $54.16 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.76% or 1.10 to hit $63.52 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.32% or 4.25 to trade at $1318.25 a troy ounce.

USD/ILS was up 0.34% to 3.6475, while EUR/ILS rose 0.02% to 4.1174.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.28% at 96.778.

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Stocks - Wall Street Gains as Trump Considers Signing Border Wall Deal

– Wall Street rose on Wednesday amid optimism on that U.S. President Donald Trump could sign Congress’s border deal in order to avoid another shutdown – and give himself more time before slapping fresh import tariffs on Chinese goods.

Trump is considering signing a bipartisan spending deal on border security that gives him less money than he originally asked for, Sarah Sanders told Fox News in an interview.

The S&P 500 rose 8 points or 0.31% as of 9:31 AM ET (14:31 GMT), while the Dow gained 95 points, or 0.38%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 21 points, or 0.29%.

Investor sentiment was also boosted after Trump said on Tuesday he could push back the March 1 deadline for imposing new tariffs on Chinese imports if the two sides were close to settling their differences. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday in Beijing.

"The market is taking into consideration the fact that they are talking and there's also the deal to avoid another possible government shutdown which is being viewed as a positive," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager, at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

Data earlier in the day showed that U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in January while annual inflation ran at the slowest rate in over one-and-a-half years, increasing chances that the Federal Reserve will hold interest rates steady this year.

Technology stocks were among the top gainers after the morning bell, with Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) up 1.9%, Alphabet A (NASDAQ:GOOGL) up 1% and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rising 0.6%.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) gained 1.3%, while Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) jumped 7% after the game maker announced a share buyback plan and said it will cut its global workforce by 8%

TripAdvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP) fell 4.5% after the travel and restaurant website company reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings despite beating revenue estimates.

- Reuters contributed to this report.

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U.S. Inflation Flat in January, Supporting Fed’s Rate Slow Down

- U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in January, while the annual rate of inflation slowed markedly.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index (CPI) was flat last month. In the 12 months through January, the CPI rose at a rate of 1.6%, slower than the 1.9% seen in December.

The data is consistent with the slowdown in the economy at the end of last year that has led the Federal Reserve to put further interest rate increases on hold for now.

Economists polled by had forecast the CPI to rise 0.1% on the month and increase 1.5% from a year ago.

The core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, increased by 0.2% from a month earlier and rose 2.2% in the 12 months through January.

In a speech on Tuesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that data shows the economy is strong on a national level. However, he noted that expansion has been uneven in some places.

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Saudi Arabia stocks higher at close of trade; Tadawul All Share up 0.20%

– Saudi Arabia stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Telecoms&IT, Agriculture&Food and Energy&Utilities sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul All Share rose 0.20%.

The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were Al-Ahlia Insurance Company (SE:8140), which rose 4.11% or 0.46 points to trade at 11.66 at the close. Meanwhile, National Industrialization Co (SE:2060) added 3.64% or 0.58 points to end at 16.50 and United Cooperative Assurance Co (SE:8190) was up 3.36% or 0.40 points to 12.30 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Abdullah A. M. Al-Khodari Sons Co (SE:1330), which fell 9.99% or 0.70 points to trade at 6.31 at the close. Saudi Cable Company (SE:2110) declined 5.07% or 2.40 points to end at 44.90 and Qassim Agriculture Co. (SE:6020) was down 5.00% or 0.60 points to 11.40.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 105 to 73 and 15 ended unchanged.

Shares in Abdullah A. M. Al-Khodari Sons Co (SE:1330) fell to all time lows; falling 9.99% or 0.70 to 6.31.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 0.68% or 0.36 to $53.46 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 0.91% or 0.57 to hit $62.99 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract fell 0.13% or 1.75 to trade at $1312.25 a troy ounce.

EUR/SAR was down 0.17% to 4.2394, while USD/SAR rose 0.01% to 3.7504.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.14% at 96.637.

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Gold Prices Hold Steady as U.S.-China Trade Talks Continue

- Gold prices held steady on Wednesday, as market participants continued to monitor trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Comex gold futures were at $1,313.35 a troy ounce by 7:25AM ET (12:25 GMT), down 65 cents.

Meanwhile, spot gold was trading at $1,310.47 per ounce, down 34 cents.

Markets will be keeping abreast of ongoing trade discussions between the U.S. and China to see if any more news materializes amid recent signs the world's two biggest economies are working to resolve their differences.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could be tempted to push back the March 1 deadline to reach an agreement if the two sides were close a deal.

"There's still a level of uncertainty there but at least the rhetoric does not show he is digging his heels in, so the market has quite rightly taken it as a positive," said Justin Onuekwusi, fund manager at Legal & General Investment Management.

Developments on the political front also remained in focus after Trump said Tuesday a second government shutdown was unlikely, even as he expressed unhappiness with the tentative agreement reached by Democratic and Republican lawmakers earlier in the week.

Looking ahead, investors will get key inflation data when the Commerce Department releases January CPI figures at 8:30AM ET (13:30 GMT).

Speeches from Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Philly Fed boss Patrick Harker will also capture the market's attention.

In other metals trading, silver futures fell 4.2 cents, or about 0.25%, to trade at $15.64 a troy ounce.

Palladium futures inched up 0.5% to $1,383.10.

Platinum was up roughly 0.2% at $791.40.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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Stocks - U.S. Futures Rise After Trump Considers Pushing Back Trade Deadline

– U.S. futures were higher on Wednesday, as trade hopes were lifted after U.S. President Donald Trump said he could push back the March 1 deadline if a deal was close.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday with Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two sides are working to resolve their differences before U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports rise to 25% from 10% at the start of next month.

The S&P 500 futures rose 5 points or 0.21% as of 6:40 AM ET (11:40 GMT) while Dow futures gained 64 points or 0.25% and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures increased 27 points or 0.39%.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co (NYSE:PCG) rose 3.6% in premarket trading after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he had formed a team to come up with a strategy for the bankrupt utility within 60 days.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) inched up 0.1% despite news that its vice president of global recruiting is leaving the company.

Meanwhile semiconductor company Micron (NASDAQ:MU) gained 0.5%, while Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) was up 0.4% and Tower Semiconductor Ltd (NASDAQ:TSEM) jumped 1.48%.

Elsewhere Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) fell 4.5% after the cloud computing company lowered its first-quarter guidance. Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) slumped 10% after missing its earnings forecast, while General Electric (NYSE:GE) slipped 0.4%.

In commodities, gold futures were flat at $1,314.05 a troy ounce, while crude oil rose 1.24% to $53.76 a barrel, supported by jawboning from Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih on Tuesday.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was at 96.610, after touching a new high for the year of 97.00 overnight.

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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Wednesday

- Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, February 13:

1. Trump Hints at Delaying New Tariffs on China

Markets will be keeping abreast of trade discussions between the U.S. and China to see if any more news materializes amid recent signs the world's two biggest economies are working to resolve their differences.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday. The two are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday with Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Xi.

Washington and Beijing are trying to hammer out a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline, when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25% from 10%.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he could be tempted to push back the deadline if the two sides were close a deal.

2. U.S. Futures Point to Higher Open

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open, as optimism over the U.S.-China trade dispute lifted sentiment.

At 5:45AM ET (10:45 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures were up 52 points, or about 0.2%, the S&P 500 futures tacked on 4 points, or around 0.15%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 24 points, or 0.35%.

Elsewhere, European stocks were higher, with most bourses across the region in positive territory.

Earlier, Asian shares closed mostly higher, with stocks in China and Japan leading gains across the region.

Read more: 3 Reasons NIO, 'China's Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA),' Should Be On Your Radar: Jesse Cohen

3. Cisco Highlights Another Busy Day of Earnings

In earnings, most of the focus will be on Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), which reports after the bell. The company is expected to post earnings per share of $0.72 on revenue of $12.41 billion, according to analysts polled by .

Other high-profile names releasing quarterly results today include Teva (NYSE:TEVA), AIG (NYSE:AIG), Yelp (NYSE:YELP), Fossil Group (NASDAQ:FOSL), Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), Gannett (NYSE:GCI), Hilton (NYSE:HLT), Hyatt Hotels (NYSE:H), DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH), and NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP).

4. U.S. Inflation Data in Focus

On the data front, the Commerce Department will publish January CPI figures at 8:30AM ET (13:30 GMT). Consumer prices are expected to have risen 0.1% last month, according to estimates. On a yearly base, CPI is projected to climb 1.5%.

Excluding the cost of food and fuel, core inflation prices are forecast to have gained 0.2% last month and 2.1% over the prior year.

Speeches from Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Philly Fed boss Patrick Harker will also be in focus.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was at 96.60. It hit a 2019 high of 97.00 a day earlier.

In the bond market, U.S. Treasury prices were little changed, with the benchmark 10-year yield at 2.68%, while the yield on U.S. government bonds with 2-year maturities was at 2.51%.

5. EIA's Weekly Oil Supply Report

In commodity markets, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its official weekly oil supplies report for the week ended Feb. 8 at 10:30AM ET (15:30 GMT).

Analysts expect the EIA to report a rise of around 2.6 million barrels in crude supplies. If confirmed, it would be the fourth straight weekly build in domestic oil inventories.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up 57 cents, or roughly 1%, at $53.67 a barrel.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $63.27 per barrel, up 85 cents, or about 1.3%.

In its closely watched monthly report, the International Energy Agency said the global oil market will struggle this year to absorb fast-growing crude supply from outside OPEC, even with the group's production cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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U.K. Annual Inflation Hits Two-Year Low of 1.8%

- The annual rate of inflation in the U.K. dropped to 1.8% in January according to data released on Wednesday, its lowest level since Dec. 2016 and below the Bank of England's target.

January’s inflation reading was down from 2.1% the month before and was also below forecasts for a drop to 1.9%. The BoE targets inflation of 2%.

Core CPI, which excludes food, energy, alcohol, and tobacco costs, rose by an annualized 1.9% last month the Office for National Statistics said, in line with forecasts and matching the previous month.

"The fall in inflation is due mainly to cheaper gas, electricity and petrol, partly offset by rising ferry ticket prices and air fares falling more slowly than this time last year," ONS statistician Mike Hardie said.

The slowdown in inflation underlines the case for the BoE to hold off for now on further policy tightening amid the political crisis surrounding the U.K.’s departure from the European Union. But analysts believe that there is still room to hike later this year and the Bank itself repeated last week that the next move in interest rates could be up as well as down.

The drop in inflation follows data out this week that showed the British economy grew at the slowest pace since 2012 last year, as concerns over Brexit and a wider global economic slowdown dragged on confidence and businesses reduced investment.

Traders widely expect the U.K.’s central bank to make no changes to interest rates until uncertainty from the Brexit process is resolved.

Earlier this week, BoE governor Mark Carney said stable global growth is more likely than a recession but highlighted some risks to the outlook, including growing debt in China and a reduction in the world's openness to trade.

He further indicated that Brexit could be the ‘acid test’ of whether the world can combine the benefits of economic openness with greater democratic accountability.

“Provided the expansion continues, a modest tightening of monetary policy over time will likely be sufficient to achieve inflation targets. Policy can remain limited and gradual, as well as data-dependent,” Carney stated.

While analysts remain cautious, they also have yet to rule out that the British central bank could tighten rates this year.

“Assuming an amicable outcome to the Brexit negotiations, there are enough hawkish signals in the inflation report to conclude that the BoE could hike rates later this year, which should support the currency,” Marc-André Fongern, FX strategist at MAF Global Forex, said.

James Smith, Developed Markets economist at ING, thinks the BoE is highly unlikely to tighten policy again through the first half of this year and notes that the chances of a rate hike at all in 2019 have receded, “but we think it’s too early to write one off completely,” he said, highlighting the fact that everything depends on the Brexit outcome.

“Most paths now lead to an extension of the Article 50 negotiating period, but if (and it's still a big if) the government can secure a cross-party consensus for a particular deal – for instance one that commits to a permanent customs union – then this may well be followed up with a Bank of England rate hike relatively swiftly,” Smith added.

Separately, the ONS said house prices in December rose by an annual 2.5% across the U.K. as a whole, the smallest increase since July 2013 and compared with 2.7% in November. Prices in London alone fell for a sixth month running, down 0.6% on the year.

-- Reuters contributed to this report

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Japan stocks higher at close of trade; Nikkei 225 up 1.34%

– Japan stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the Transportation Equipment, Communication and Chemical, Petroleum&Plastic sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 1.34% to hit a new 1-month high.

The best performers of the session on the Nikkei 225 were Inpex Corp. (T:1605), which rose 12.46% or 125.0 points to trade at 1128.5 at the close. Meanwhile, Nikon Corp. (T:7731) added 6.20% or 102.0 points to end at 1747.0 and SUMCO Corp. (T:3436) was up 5.50% or 86.0 points to 1651.0 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Yamaha Motor Co Ltd (T:7272), which fell 5.11% or 120.0 points to trade at 2230.0 at the close. Toho Zinc Co., Ltd. (T:5707) declined 2.87% or 95.0 points to end at 3210.0 and Isuzu Motors, Ltd. (T:7202) was down 2.86% or 46.0 points to 1563.5.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by 2246 to 1248 and 188 ended unchanged.

The Nikkei Volatility, which measures the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, was down 9.14% to 18.00.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 0.85% or 0.45 to $53.55 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April rose 1.01% or 0.63 to hit $63.05 a barrel, while the April Gold Futures contract rose 0.13% or 1.75 to trade at $1315.75 a troy ounce.

USD/JPY was up 0.21% to 110.72, while EUR/JPY rose 0.22% to 125.39.

The US Dollar Index Futures was up 0.06% at 96.560.

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Dollar Pulls Back as U.S. Government Shutdown Risk Recedes

-- After an eight-day winning streak, the dollar has finally pulled back in early trading in Europe Wednesday, as demand for safe-haven assets weakens on signs that the U.S. federal government won’t shut down again this year.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s not happy with a tentative deal in Congress that would allocate barely a quarter of what he had sought for a wall on the U.S.’s southern border, it was only part of an overall $23 billion that has now been allocated to border security.

In addition, risk appetite has been bolstered by a strong hint from Trump that he will push back a March 1 deadline for the imposition of new tariffs on Chinese imports if the U.S. and China make enough progress on addressing various trade issues in the meantime.

“If we’re close to a deal…I could see myself letting that slide for a little while,” Trump said. The Chinese yuan rose overnight on the comment, recouping most of w

At 03:15 AM ET (0815 GMT), the dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of major currencies was at 96.82, down from a 2019 high of 97.18 that it set overnight.

Elsewhere, the euro and British pound rose slightly, but the euro’s gains were capped by comments from Dutch central bank head Klaas Knot, who told the Financial Times that the current slowdown in the euro-zone economy “might last a few quarters.”

Knot is one of the European Central Bank’s most hawkish policy-makers and his caution illustrates the extent to which the ECB has scaled back its ambitions to return interest rates to normal levels as the economy has weakened.

Sterling edged up to $1.2898 after the TV channel ITV (LON:ITV) reported comments from U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief negotiator Olly Robins in which Robins predicted May would offer parliament in March a choice between her EU withdrawal deal or a lengthy extension to the Brexit process.898

Such an approach would appear to reduce the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the EU on March 29 without transitional arrangements to safeguard trade with its largest trading partner.

Also overnight, the kiwi rose over 1.5% against the U.S. dollar after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would likely keep its key rate unchanged for the rest of the year, defying expectations of rate cuts. The market’s focus Wednesday will turn to Sweden’s Riksbank, which raised its key rate for the first time in seven years in December, but which may temper its outlook at its policy-making meeting today.

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Australia stocks lower at close of trade; S&P/ASX 200 down 0.25%

– Australia stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Healthcare, A-REITs and Telecoms Services sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.25%.

The best performers of the session on the S&P/ASX 200 were Northern Star Resources Ltd (AX:NST), which rose 7.36% or 0.660 points to trade at 9.630 at the close. Meanwhile, Computershare Ltd. (AX:CPU) added 5.90% or 1.050 points to end at 18.850 and Emeco Holdings Ltd (AX:EHL) was up 5.90% or 0.160 points to 2.870 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Pact Group Holdings Ltd (AX:PGH), which fell 8.73% or 0.310 points to trade at 3.240 at the close. Bapcor Ltd (AX:BAP) declined 7.94% or 0.510 points to end at 5.910 and Carsales.Com Ltd (AX:CAR) was down 5.42% or 0.660 points to 11.520.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Sydney Stock Exchange by 618 to 509 and 363 ended unchanged.

The S&P/ASX 200 VIX, which measures the implied volatility of S&P/ASX 200 options, was up 2.40% to 13.139.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.21% or 2.75 to $1316.75 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 0.87% or 0.46 to hit $53.56 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 0.85% or 0.53 to trade at $62.95 a barrel.

AUD/USD was up 0.55% to 0.7132, while AUD/JPY rose 0.70% to 78.91.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.05% at 96.453.

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Oil Prices Jump More Than 1% on Deeper Production Cuts, Positive Trade News

- Oil prices gained more than 1% on Wednesday in Asia, supported by OPEC and Saudi Arabia production cuts. Positive trade news also lifted investor sentiment.

Crude Oil WTI Futures was up 1.1% at 53.6 per barrel by 12:36 AM ET (05:36 GMT). It lost 4.6% last week for its steepest weekly decline this year.

Brent Oil Futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.2% to $63.03 per barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Tuesday that it had cut its output by almost 800,000 bpd in January to 30.81 million bpd.

Meanwhile, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom will pump just 9.8 million barrels per day in March, more than 500,000 bpd below what it agreed to in December with the enlarged OPEC+10 group including Russia to lift crude prices.

However, some analysts said global oil markets remain well supplied despite the OPEC and Saudi cuts.

Markets were amply supplied due to "adequate global oil inventories, the prospect of weakened demand tied both to U.S.-China trade and broader economic concerns, the approach of seasonal refinery maintenance - when crude oil demand declines - and an influx of new supply from the United States and elsewhere,” Frank Verrastro, senior vice president for the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in a note that was cited by Reuters.

Elsewhere, oil prices were also lifted by more positive trade comments coming out from the U.S. side.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he is willing to extend the March 1 deadline if China and the U.S. get closer to a deal soon. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters earlier in the day that he hopes for “productive” trade meetings in China.

The Energy Information Administration said separately on Tuesday that U.S. output was expected to reach a record high 12.41 million bpd this year and 13.2 million bpd next year.

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Kiwi Jumps on Less-dovish RBNZ; Dollar Slips on Improved Risk Sentiment

- The NZD/USD pair advanced on Wednesday in Asia after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) decision earlier in the day.

The central bank kept the interest rates unchanged at 1.75% but refrained from offering any fresh dovish signals either for future monetary policy change or headline economic indicators.

RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr also backed the central bank’s outlook and said the chances of a rate cut had not increased and risks are finely balanced.

The NZD/USD pair last traded at 0.6845 by 11:29 PM ET (04:29 GMT), up 1.7%, as markets were likely positioned for a much more dovish RBNZ.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index slipped 0.1% to 96.453. More positive news on the trade front coming out from the U.S. side improved risk sentiment and reduced demand for safe-haven assets, including the U.S. dollar.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he is willing to extend the March 1 deadline if China and the U.S. get closer to a deal soon. U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told reports earlier in the day that he hopes for “productive” trade meetings in China. Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He later this week.

Their comments revived risk appetite in broader markets, with Asian equities gaining for a second day.

The fall in the dollar also came as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell played down the possibility of a recession in the United States, reiterating the U.S. economy is on solid footing.

"Today, data at the national level show a strong economy. Unemployment is near a half-century low, and economic output is growing at a solid pace," Powell said in remarks to the Hope Enterprise Corporation Rural Policy Forum, in Mississippi.

The Chinese yuan also advanced against the U.S. dollar following the news, as the USD/CNY pair fell 0.3% to 6.7536.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan reference rate at 6.7675 vs the previous day's fix of 6.7765.

Elsewhere, the USD/JPY pair edged up 0.1% to 110.57.

The AUD/USD pair was up 0.5% to 0.7130.

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Stocks Moving After Hours: Activision, JetBlue, Akamai, NetGear, TripAdvisor

- Stocks moving after hours.

- Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) was up 3% after hours. Non-GAAP earnings per share of 84 cents were in line with estimates. Bookings, a measure of revenue, were off by $200 million to $2.84 billion.

- Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM) slipped 0.3% after fourth-quarter earnings and revenue beat estimates compiled by .

- JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU) was modestly higher after the airline said its January traffic rose 10% from a year ago.

- Netgear (NASDAQ:NTGR) was rebounding a bit after getting clobbered by nearly 15% in regular trading. The drubbing was due to Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) deal to buy eero, a maker of WI-FI systems for the home.

- TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) was off 5% after reporting 27 cents a share in earnings, off a penny from the estimate compiled by . Revenue of $346 million beat expectations of $342.8 million. The hotel business wasn't as strong as hoped.

- Biotech conpany Exelixis (NASDAQ:EXEL) shares were up 7% after hours. The developer of cancer drugs reported fourth-quarter results that beat estimates compiled by . Earnings of 37 cents a share were 54% higher than the estimate of 24 cents. Revenue was $228.6 million, compared with the estimate of $190.4 million.

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U.S. stocks higher at close of trade; Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.49%

– U.S. stocks were higher after the close on Tuesday, as gains in the Basic Materials, Industrials and Technology sectors led shares higher.

At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.49% to hit a new 1-month high, while the S&P 500 index gained 1.29%, and the NASDAQ Composite index climbed 1.46%.

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT), which rose 2.90% or 3.74 points to trade at 132.67 at the close. Meanwhile, 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) added 2.82% or 5.66 points to end at 206.57 and DowDuPont Inc (NYSE:DWDP) was up 2.62% or 1.36 points to 53.36 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), which fell 0.22% or 0.24 points to trade at 109.20 at the close. McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) declined 0.17% or 0.29 points to end at 173.97 and Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) was up 0.10% or 0.05 points to 49.66.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were Brighthouse Financial Inc (NASDAQ:BHF) which rose 13.95% to 40.68, Coty Inc (NYSE:COTY) which was up 12.53% to settle at 10.87 and Pacific Gas&Electric Co (NYSE:PCG) which gained 7.68% to close at 15.43.

The worst performers were Molson Coors Brewing Co Class B (NYSE:TAP) which was down 9.44% to 59.19 in late trade, Everest Re Group Ltd (NYSE:RE) which lost 3.63% to settle at 212.39 and Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) which was down 3.28% to 65.40 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were CAS Medical Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CASM) which rose 54.14% to 2.420, Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PTX) which was up 36.62% to settle at 1.190 and Applied DNA Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:APDN) which gained 32.95% to close at 0.585.

The worst performers were PHI Inc (NASDAQ:PHIIK) which was down 22.79% to 3.32 in late trade, Xeris Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:XERS) which lost 21.50% to settle at 11.54 and TMSR Holding Company Ltd (NASDAQ:TMSR) which was down 20.57% to 2.78 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 2275 to 744 and 100 ended unchanged; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1920 rose and 708 declined, while 97 ended unchanged.

Shares in Xeris Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:XERS) fell to all time lows; falling 21.50% or 3.16 to 11.54.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was down 3.38% to 15.43.

Gold Futures for April delivery was up 0.19% or 2.55 to $1314.45 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in March rose 1.18% or 0.62 to hit $53.03 a barrel, while the April Brent oil contract rose 1.41% or 0.87 to trade at $62.38 a barrel.

EUR/USD was up 0.47% to 1.1328, while USD/JPY rose 0.10% to 110.47.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.35% at 96.520.

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