Asian Markets Retreat; Oil Climbs

18/02/2021 Asian equities pulled back on Thursday, weighed down by some of the region’s largest technology-related stocks. Chinese stocks pared gains after the initial jump, as trading resumed following Lunar New Year holidays. The S&P 500 closed flat as investors digested retail sales and PPI data that showed strength in the economic recovery. Technology stocks trailed. Oil prices extended gains as Texas cold snap cuts U.S. output. Brent crude climbed 1.1% to $65.30 a barrel, while WTI crude futures gained 0.83% to $61.65 a barrel. Gold was up on Thursday, but hovered close to its lowest level in more than two months as the dollar strengthened .
Gold futures were up 0.47% at $1,783.37. Silver held steady, while platinum and palladium gained.

Locally, on Wednesday, both JSE heavyweights Naspers and Prosus gained 4.07% and 3.05% respectively, but came short of keeping the local bourse above the waterline. The All-share index closed 0.17% weaker to 67,110.07, dragged down mostly by gold stocks that fell 5.46% on the day. Platinum miners were down 0.92%. Banks and retailers slipped 1.67% and 1.75%, while financials saw the session out 1.98% weaker.

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European shares finished lower as concerns that higher near-term inflation and rising government bond yields might eventually sap the strength in equities. UK National Statistics showed that CPI rose to 0.7% in January from 0.6% in December, with food and household goods the main drivers. Analysts had been expecting a nudge lower to 0.5%. The pan-European Stoxx was down 0.74%, alongside a 0.56% drop for London’s FTSE 100, Germany’s Dax was knocked 1.1% lower. British American Tobacco was in the red by 3.95% as it said full-year profits rose but the figure fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Wall Street closed mixed: the Dow was up 0.29%, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.03%, and the Nasdaq was 0.58% weaker at 13,965.50. The FOMC released the minutes from its January meeting, which revealed that officials thought the US economy was “far from” where they wanted it to be. That meant the central bank was likely to keep policy loose for the foreseeable future, with the short-term interest rate likely to remain near zero and asset purchases to be maintained – at least $120bn each month. U.S futures below the waterline this morning: Dow futures flat 0.09%, the S&P500 futures 0.24% weaker, while the Nasdaq’s are 0.54% in the red.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.17%, food delivery giant Meituan, Sony and Samsung Electronics were among the biggest drags on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. Japan’s Nikkei225 fell 0.25%, Hang Seng 1.16% weaker (Tencent flat 0.07%), Shanghai Composite underperforming at 0.83%, while markets in Aussie are flat 0.02%.