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U.S. markets closed higher on Friday, ending the second consecutive week with a plus with oil above USD60 and strong fourth quarter earnings and despite U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly worsened in February. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index declined to 93.6 in February from a final reading of 98.1 in January, missing expectations for an increase to 98.2. That was the highest level since January 2004. The harsh weather may have been a key factor of the drop.
Today U.S. markets a closed for President's day.
The DOW JONES index added +0.26% closing at 18,019.35 points, above the psychologically important level of 18,000. The S&P 500 closed higher with a final quote of 2,096.99, +0.41%, hitting a record high.
Chinese shares added gains on Monday in the wake of the Chinese New Year where volumes are expected to remain low. Speculations on further monetary easing supported the markets. Hong Kong's Hang Seng is trading +0.21% at 24,733.51 points. China's Shanghai Composite closed at 3,223.16 points +0.60%. The index has gained more than 50% over the past year boosted by monetary easing and the creation of an exchange link with Hong Kong.
Japanese markets reached new 8-year highs in today's trading. The Nikkei booked gains following Wall Street, closing +0.51% with a final quote of 18,004.77 points. Asia's second largest economy exited recession in the final quarter of last year although growth was weaker than expected. Sunday's data on Japan's GDP for the fourth quarter came in at +0.6% from -0.6% (revised from +1.5%) in the previous quarter. Year on year GDP rose by +2.2% compared to -2.3% (revised from +2.0%). Month on moth Industrial Production rose less than expected +0.8% in December compared to +1.0% in November. Analysts expected an increase by +1.0%. Insiders said the BoJ sees further monetary easing as counterproductive for now as more stimulus would further hurt the currency. Now all eyes are on BoJ Governor Kuroda's speech scheduled for Wednesday.
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