Market Update & Important Indicators:
The S&P 500 notched its sixth consecutive week of gains on growing optimism about the U.S. economy. Friday's muted moves capped an eventful week for markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared above 21,000 for the first time Wednesday, and government bonds yields jumped in recent days as investors bet that the Fed was gearing up to raise rates. The Dow industrials rose about 3 points, or less than 0.1%, to 21,006 on Friday. The S&P 500 added about 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.2%. Investors' confidence in the U.S. economic outlook started building late Tuesday following President Donald Trump's speech to Congress and continued into Wednesday when data on the Fed's preferred inflation gauge showed firming price pressures. On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen signalled the central bank was likely to raise short-term rates at its March meeting, echoing a week of similar statements from Fed decision makers suggesting they were leaning toward lifting rates. Federal-funds futures, put the chances of an interest-rate increase this month at 80%, up from 78% Thursday and 27% at the end of last week, according to CME Group.
European stocks closed in the red on Friday, with caution setting in as investors were reluctant to make big bets ahead of comments from prominent officials from the U.S. central bank, which could influence investing strategies. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1% to finish at 375.23. But French stocks swung higher after the release of new polling in France's presidential race. The Stoxx 600 booked a 1.4% rise for the week, during which it notched its strongest close since early December. The weekly gain represents the gauge's best weekly climb since the week ended Dec.9.
Declines in energy and electronics companies sent Japanese shares down 0.5% Friday, but the Nikkei Stock Average still closed the week up nearly 1%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.7% in its second straight week of declines. South Korea's Kospi index was down 1.1% as tensions with China grew. South Korean retail companies, increasingly reliant on Chinese tourists, are the latest perceived target of Beijing's ire in a spat over Seoul's deployment of a U.S. antimissile system that China opposes.
A sharp drop in mining stocks on a decline in commodity prices led Australia's equities market lower Friday, coming off its strongest gain of the year the day before. The market's fall came on the heels of losses on Wall Street as it consolidated recent gains, and as the dollar surged on heightened expectations that short-term U.S. interest rates could soon rise. After rallying 1.3% Thursday, the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 47 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 5729.6. That left it 0.2% lower for the week, following a 1.2% drop last week. The index has now fallen in nine of the last 11 sessions, as risk appetite that followed the U.S. election has waned, and the lacklustre response to what analysts regarded as solid corporate earnings. For the day, the steepest falls were in the materials and energy sectors, while financials pared some of the previous session's rise.
The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract closed down 0.22% at $5,917/t. The other base metals were mixed on Friday. Aluminium fell 1.0% to $1,884/t, zinc fell 0.2% to $2,767/t, and lead fell 0.1% to $2,243/t. Nickel prices rose 2.0% at 10,936/t, and tin prices rose 0.8% at 19,471/t.
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