Wall Street little changed at open; eyes on Greece – Reuters

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:51pm IST

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 18, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 18, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with energy shares leading the way lower amid a sharp decline in oil prices, while continued uncertainty over the prospects of a debt deal with Greece added to the cautious tone.

Losses were outsized in the Dow after Wal-Mart Stores (WMT.N) cut its sales outlook, citing the impact of a stronger dollar. Shares fell 2.7 percent to $83.97.

On the upside, Priceline Group (PCLN.O) rallied on its results, helping keep the Nasdaq slightly positive.

Crude oil CLc1 fell 4.7 percent to $49.69 as another big weekly build in U.S. crude inventories and possible rise in Saudi output fueled concerns about oversupply.

The S&P Energy index .SPNY fell 1.9 percent, by far the biggest decliner among the 10 primary S&P sectors, nine of which were lower on the day. Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) fell 1.2 percent to $89.95 while Halliburton Co (HAL.N) was off 2.2 percent to $43.43 and ConocoPhillips (COP.N) fell 2.2 percent to $66.25.

“There’s still a lot of supply, even though we’re looking at a decline in rig counts and expenditures. Right now, the majority view is that oil won’t really start to go up until the middle of the year,” said Clem Miller, portfolio manager at Wilmington International Funds in Baltimore, Maryland.

The decline in energy prices has severely hurt oil companies, with many cutting 2015 spending plans in a bearish sign for economic growth prospects. Late Wednesday, Marathon Oil (MRO.N) said it would cut its 2015 capital budget by 20 percent, the second cut of that magnitude since December, sending shares down 2.8 percent to $28.22.

In Europe, the German finance ministry rejected a new proposal from Athens for an extension of its bailout program, saying it fell short of the conditions set out by the country’s euro zone partners. On Wednesday, a Greek government spokesperson said the country aimed to conclude a deal with its euro zone partners “soon.”

“At this point, it’s hard to see the Greece situation having a dramatic impact on the U.S. outside of just creating a lot of volatility,” said Miller, who helps oversee about $80 billion in assets under advisement.

Priceline jumped 7.1 percent to $1,202 after the online travel agency reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

In the latest economic data, initial jobless claims fell more than expected in the latest week, offering fresh evidence that the labor market was gathering steam. Separately, a regional Federal Reserve survey showed growth in factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region decelerated in February to its slowest level in a year.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 85.31 points, or 0.47 percent, to 17,944.54, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 5.87 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,093.81 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 6.09 points, or 0.12 percent, to 4,912.45.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,878 to 924, for a 2.03-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,288 issues fell and 1,024 advanced, a 1.26-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 was posting 37 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 52 new highs and 11 new lows.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Stocks retreat on Greek uncertainty, oil tumbles – Reuters

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 18, 2015. REUTERS/Staff/remote


(Reuters) – Stocks markets around the world reversed earlier gains on Thursday, with European equities retreating from seven-year highs, after Germany rejected a Greek proposal to extend its bailout and as oil prices dropped.

Government borrowing costs fell across the euro zone, and the euro lost ground.

Despite the German rejection, Greece’s wording of a document seen by Reuters appeared to cooperate substantially with the terms laid out by euro zone finance ministers in early negotiations.

“At this point, investors think that even if a deal is reached, it won’t mean that the ‘Greek issue’ will be resolved,” said Mirabaud Securities senior equity sales trader John Plassard in Geneva. “There will be serious doubts on whether Greece will fully implement the agreement.”

The Greek request for a six-month extension to its euro zone loan agreement came as it was weeks away from running out of cash. Crucially, Greece agreed the plan would be monitored by the EU Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, a retreat by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had vowed to end cooperation with “troika” inspectors.

Shortly after Wall Street opened, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 47.61 points, or 0.26 percent, to 17,982.24, the S&P 500 .SPX slipped 3.66 points, or 0.17 percent, to 2,096.02 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC declined 3.03 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,903.34.

The broader FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 was down 0.04 percent at 1,515.38 after hitting a seven-year high of 1.522.25 points.

Earlier Tokyo’s Nikkei index .N225 reached 15-year highs.

In the currency market, the euro EUR=EBS fell 0.2 percent against the dollar at $1.1377 after Wednesday’s gains on the Fed minutes . The dollar .DXY edged 0.2 percent higher against a basket of major on Thursday after falling due to the perceived dovish minutes.

As stock markets turned negative and a report on U.S. Mid-Atlantic factory activity fell short of expectations, investors moved some money back into safehaven U.S. Treasuries US10YT=RR, cutting earlier losses due to competition from higher-yielding corporate bond supply.

10-year bond yields in Spain, Italy and Portugal, the countries most vulnerable to the Greek crisis, fell 4-7 basis points to 1.55 percent ES10YT=TWEB , 1.60 percent IT10YT=TWEB and 2.25 percent PT10YT=TWEB, respectively.

In oil markets, benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1 for April was down $2.28, or down 3.77 percent, at $58.25 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 was last down $2.61, or 5.01 percent, at $49.53 per barrel. The oil market sagged after data showed another huge weekly build in U.S. crude inventories and a possible rise in Saudi output.

Spot gold prices XAU= fell $0.51 or 0.04 percent, to $1,212.10 an ounce.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia in London; Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by Larry King and Meredith Mazzilli)

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Japan shares hit 15-year peak; yields drop on Fed view – Yahoo Finance UK

By Marius Zaharia

LONDON (Reuters) – A softer stance from the Federal Reserves knocked the dollar down on Thursday but failed to lift stock markets in Europe, where the looming deadline for Greece to get a new debt deal kept investors nervous.

In contrast, Japan’s shares hit a 15-year high as the minutes from the Fed’s meeting in January showed officials were concerned about hiking interest rates too soon. Export data also showed the weaker yen was helping the economy.

Investors revised their expectations for the timing of a first Fed hike and the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. The dollar fell about 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies.

“Is this the U.S. joining in the currency wars?” said Marshall Gittler, head of global FX strategy at IronFX.

In Europe, whose barely growing economy could benefit from a weaker currency, the euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1412 and the broader FTSEurofirst 300 index slipped 0.3 percent to 1,511.18 points.

The retreat from seven-year highs was accelerated by a slide in oil prices on expectations U.S. inventories would reach record highs and a possible increase in Saudi output stoked new worries about oversupply. Brent crude futures for April fell below $60 a barrel, trading at $59.32 a barrel, down $1.21.

Concerns about Greece, the country at the heart of the euro zone debt crisis for the past five years, also weighed. Athens is expected to seek an extension to its loan agreement with the euro zone, without which it could run out of cash in weeks. Euro zone officials said Athens had to agree to a deal by Friday.

The European Central Bank did agree on Wednesday to raise to 68.3 billion euros (US$78 billion)a cap on funding available under its Emergency Liquidity Assistance scheme, a person familiar with the ECB talks said. That was an increase of 3.3 billion euros, less than Athens had requested.

The Greek uncertainty saw lower-rated euro zone debt underperform benchmark German Bunds, whose yields dropped 2 basis points to 0.36 percent. Italian and Spanish 10-year yields were unchanged at 1.63 percent and 1.59 percent, respectively. Portuguese equivalents dipped 1 bp to 2.32 percent.

“Although it is slightly more probable that the Greek side will ultimately climb down … there is still an undiminished risk of political miscalculation,” said DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz.

Ten-year U.S. T-note yields were down 2 basis points at 2.05 percent.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia)

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Fed softness knocks dollar, fails to lift Greece-focused Europe – Reuters

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 18, 2015. REUTERS/Staff/remote


(Reuters) – A softer stance from the Federal Reserves knocked the dollar down on Thursday but failed to lift stock markets in Europe, where the looming deadline for Greece to get a new debt deal kept investors nervous.

In contrast, Japan’s shares hit a 15-year high as the minutes from the Fed’s meeting in January showed officials were concerned about hiking interest rates too soon. Export data also showed the weaker yen was helping the economy.

Investors revised their expectations for the timing of a first Fed hike and the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. The dollar fell about 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies.

“Is this the U.S. joining in the currency wars?” said Marshall Gittler, head of global FX strategy at IronFX.

In Europe, whose barely growing economy could benefit from a weaker currency, the euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.1412 and the broader FTSEurofirst 300 index slipped 0.3 percent to 1,511.18 points.

The retreat from seven-year highs was accelerated by a slide in oil prices on expectations U.S. inventories would reach record highs and a possible increase in Saudi output stoked new worries about oversupply. Brent crude futures for April fell below $60 a barrel, trading at $59.32 a barrel, down $1.21.

Concerns about Greece, the country at the heart of the euro zone debt crisis for the past five years, also weighed. Athens is expected to seek an extension to its loan agreement with the euro zone, without which it could run out of cash in weeks. Euro zone officials said Athens had to agree to a deal by Friday.

The European Central Bank did agree on Wednesday to raise to 68.3 billion euros (US$78 billion)a cap on funding available under its Emergency Liquidity Assistance scheme, a person familiar with the ECB talks said. That was an increase of 3.3 billion euros, less than Athens had requested.

The Greek uncertainty saw lower-rated euro zone debt underperform benchmark German Bunds, whose yields dropped 2 basis points to 0.36 percent. Italian and Spanish 10-year yields were unchanged at 1.63 percent and 1.59 percent, respectively. Portuguese equivalents dipped 1 bp to 2.32 percent.

“Although it is slightly more probable that the Greek side will ultimately climb down … there is still an undiminished risk of political miscalculation,” said DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz.

Ten-year U.S. T-note yields were down 2 basis points at 2.05 percent.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia)

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Japan shares hit 15-year peak; yields drop on Fed view – Reuters UK

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:21am GMT

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei share average (top R) and Asian countries' stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan’s Nikkei share average (top R) and Asian countries’ stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar was nursing losses in Asia on Thursday while bonds held hefty gains as investors scaled back expectations on how fast, and how far, the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in coming months and years.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.6 percent to heights last seen in 2000 helped by gains in financial and shipping companies.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was near flat with much of the region on holiday. Centres off include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

But oil prices slid as U.S. crude stockpiles swelled by five times more than forecast last week. U.S crude CLc1 was down $1.55 at $50.59 a barrel, from a top of $53.41 on Wednesday.

Risk appetites had been whetted when minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed “many” members wanted to keep rates near zero for longer. [TOP/CEN]

“Our main takeaway from the minutes is that concern about downside risk to inflation has risen and, consequently, the bar for raising rates by June is higher than it was in December,” said Barclays economist Michael Gapen.

The shift in expectations was given added impetus by a surprisingly sharp fall in U.S. producer prices which suggested the measure of core inflation followed by the Fed could slow to just 1.2 percent in January, further away from the central bank’s target of 2 percent.

Investors responded by pushing out the timing of a first Fed hike and by lowering the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. Yields on two-year debt dived 7 basis points in reaction US2YT=RR, the biggest daily drop since August 2011.

Yields on 10-year notes US10YT=RR were down at 2.07 percent, from a six-week peak of 2.16 percent.

That helped Wall Street recoup early losses and the Dow .DJI ended down a slim 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.03 percent while the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.14 percent.

Falling yields were not so positive for the U.S. dollar which gave ground to its major competitors. The dollar eased to 118.73 yen JPY=, from 119.26 before the Fed minutes were released, while the euro rose to $1.1402 EUR= from $1.1340.

Oddly enough the European Central Bank will publish its first minutes ever later on Thursday, providing insight into just how much support or resistance there was to last month’s landmark decision to buy government bonds.

Sentiment toward the single currency was helped by signs Greece would ask on Thursday for an extension to its “loan agreement” with the euro zone as it risks running out of cash.

Financial markets had rallied after Athens said it would submit a request to extend the loan agreement for up to six months, hoping this signaled a last minute compromise to avert a bankruptcy and exit from the euro zone.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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Japan shares hit 15-year peak; yields drop on Fed view – WTAQ

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 5:42 p.m. CST

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar nursed modest losses in Asia on Thursday while bonds held on to heftier gains as investors scaled back expectations on how fast, and how far, the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in coming months and years.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to heights last seen in 2000, helped by gains in financial and shipping companies. Data showed the country’s exports grew at the fastest annual pace since late 2013 as a weaker yen made it more competitive.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was near flat with much of the region off for the Lunar New Year holiday. Markets in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea were all shut.

But oil prices slid as U.S. crude stockpiles swelled by five times more than forecast last week. U.S crude was down $1.51 at $50.63 a barrel, from a top of $53.41 on Wednesday.

Risk appetite had been whetted when minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed “many” members wanted to keep rates near zero for longer. [TOP/CEN]

“Our main takeaway from the minutes is that concern about downside risk to inflation has risen and, consequently, the bar for raising rates by June is higher than it was in December,” said Barclays economist Michael Gapen.

The shift in expectations was given added impetus by a surprisingly sharp fall in U.S. producer prices, which suggested the measure of core inflation followed by the Fed could slow to just 1.2 percent in January, further away from the central bank’s target of 2 percent.

Investors responded by pushing out the timing of a first Fed hike and by lowering the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. Yields on two-year debt dived 7 basis points in reaction, the biggest daily drop since August 2011.

Yields on 10-year notes were down at 2.07 percent, from a six-week peak of 2.16 percent.

That helped Wall Street recoup early losses and the Dow ended down a slim 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.03 percent while the Nasdaq added 0.14 percent.

Falling yields were not so positive for the U.S. dollar which gave ground to its major competitors. The dollar eased to 118.65 yen, from 119.26 before the Fed minutes were released, while the euro rose to $1.1413 from $1.1340.

The European Central Bank will publish its first minutes ever later on Thursday, providing insight into just how much support or resistance there was to last month’s landmark decision to buy government bonds.

Sentiment toward the single currency was helped by signs Greece would ask on Thursday for an extension to its “loan agreement” with the euro zone as it risks running out of cash, but it must overcome resistance from skeptical partners led by Germany.

Financial markets had rallied after Athens said it would submit a request to extend the loan agreement for up to six months, hoping this signaled a last minute compromise to avert a bankruptcy and exit from the euro zone.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam & Kim Coghill)

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Japan shares hit 15-year peak; yields drop on Fed view – Reuters

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei share average (top R) and Asian countries' stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Issei Kato

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan’s Nikkei share average (top R) and Asian countries’ stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato


(Reuters) – The U.S. dollar nursed modest losses in Asia on Thursday while bonds held on to heftier gains as investors scaled back expectations on how fast, and how far, the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in coming months and years.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to heights last seen in 2000, helped by gains in financial and shipping companies. Data showed the country’s exports grew at the fastest annual pace since late 2013 as a weaker yen made it more competitive.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was near flat with much of the region off for the Lunar New Year holiday. Markets in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea were all shut.

But oil prices slid as U.S. crude stockpiles swelled by five times more than forecast last week. U.S crude was down $1.51 at $50.63 a barrel, from a top of $53.41 on Wednesday.

Risk appetite had been whetted when minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed “many” members wanted to keep rates near zero for longer. [TOP/CEN]

“Our main takeaway from the minutes is that concern about downside risk to inflation has risen and, consequently, the bar for raising rates by June is higher than it was in December,” said Barclays economist Michael Gapen.

The shift in expectations was given added impetus by a surprisingly sharp fall in U.S. producer prices, which suggested the measure of core inflation followed by the Fed could slow to just 1.2 percent in January, further away from the central bank’s target of 2 percent.

Investors responded by pushing out the timing of a first Fed hike and by lowering the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. Yields on two-year debt dived 7 basis points in reaction, the biggest daily drop since August 2011.

Yields on 10-year notes were down at 2.07 percent, from a six-week peak of 2.16 percent.

That helped Wall Street recoup early losses and the Dow ended down a slim 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.03 percent while the Nasdaq added 0.14 percent.

Falling yields were not so positive for the U.S. dollar which gave ground to its major competitors. The dollar eased to 118.65 yen, from 119.26 before the Fed minutes were released, while the euro rose to $1.1413 from $1.1340.

The European Central Bank will publish its first minutes ever later on Thursday, providing insight into just how much support or resistance there was to last month’s landmark decision to buy government bonds.

Sentiment toward the single currency was helped by signs Greece would ask on Thursday for an extension to its “loan agreement” with the euro zone as it risks running out of cash, but it must overcome resistance from skeptical partners led by Germany.

Financial markets had rallied after Athens said it would submit a request to extend the loan agreement for up to six months, hoping this signaled a last minute compromise to avert a bankruptcy and exit from the euro zone.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam & Kim Coghill)

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Yields, dollar drop as Fed seen delaying hike – Reuters

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei share average (top R) and Asian countries' stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Issei Kato

Passersby walk past an electronic board showing Japan’s Nikkei share average (top R) and Asian countries’ stock indexes outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato


(Reuters) – The U.S. dollar was nursing losses in Asia on Thursday while bonds held hefty gains as investors scaled back expectations on how fast, and how far, the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in coming months and years.

Oil prices also tumbled anew as figures showed U.S. crude supplies had grown by five times more than forecast last week. U.S crude CLc1 prices were down $1.78 at $50.36 a barrel early Thursday, from a high of $53.41 the day before.

Equities were relatively calm with much of Asia on holiday, and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was near flat.

Centres on holiday include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

Nikkei futures JNIc1 still pointed to an opening gain of over 100 points as the risk of an early tightening in the United States seemed to diminish. [TOP/CEN]

Yields on short-term Treasuries fell by the most since August 2011 after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed “many” members wanted to keep rates near zero for longer.

“Our main takeaway from the minutes is that concern about downside risk to inflation has risen and, consequently, the bar for raising rates by June is higher than it was in December,” said Barclays economist Michael Gapen.

The shift in expectations was given added impetus by a surprisingly sharp fall in U.S. producer prices which suggested the measure of core inflation followed by the Fed could slow to just 1.2 percent in January, further away from the central bank’s target of 2 percent.

Investors responded by pushing out the timing of a first Fed hike and by lowering the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. Yields on two-year debt dived 7 basis points US10YT=RR while those on 10-year notes fell to 2.08 percent, from a six-week peak of 2.16 percent.

That in turn helped Wall Street recoup early losses and the Dow .DJI ended down a slim 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.03 percent while the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.14 percent.

Falling yields were not so positive for the U.S. dollar which gave ground to its major competitors. The dollar eased to 118.69 yen JPY=, from 119.26 before the Fed minutes were released, while the euro rose to $1.1403 EUR= from $1.1340.

Sentiment toward the single currency was also helped by signs Greece would ask on Thursday for an extension to its “loan agreement” with the euro zone as it risks running out of cash.

Financial markets had rallied after Athens said it would submit a request to extend the loan agreement for up to six months, hoping this signaled a last minute compromise to avert a bankruptcy and exit from the euro zone.

The biggest gainer in currencies was sterling which hit a seven-year high against the euro after data showed British wages growing strongly, outstripping inflation by the widest margin since before the financial crisis.

Sterling strengthened by more than 1 percent against the euro to 73.505 pence EURGBP=D4, while reaching a 1-1/2-month high on the dollar at $1.5478 GBP=D4.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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Yields, dollar drop as Fed seen delaying hike – Reuters UK

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:41pm GMT

A man looks at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

A man looks at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo January 26, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar was nursing losses in Asia on Thursday while bonds held hefty gains as investors scaled back expectations on how fast, and how far, the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates in coming months and years.

Oil prices also tumbled anew as figures showed U.S. crude supplies had grown by five times more than forecast last week. U.S crude CLc1 prices were down $1.78 at $50.36 a barrel early Thursday, from a high of $53.41 the day before.

Equities were relatively calm with much of Asia on holiday, and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was near flat.

Centres on holiday include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

Nikkei futures JNIc1 still pointed to an opening gain of over 100 points as the risk of an early tightening in the United States seemed to diminish. [TOP/CEN]

Yields on short-term Treasuries fell by the most since August 2011 after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed “many” members wanted to keep rates near zero for longer.

“Our main takeaway from the minutes is that concern about downside risk to inflation has risen and, consequently, the bar for raising rates by June is higher than it was in December,” said Barclays economist Michael Gapen.

The shift in expectations was given added impetus by a surprisingly sharp fall in U.S. producer prices which suggested the measure of core inflation followed by the Fed could slow to just 1.2 percent in January, further away from the central bank’s target of 2 percent.

Investors responded by pushing out the timing of a first Fed hike and by lowering the trajectory of rates for the next couple of years. Yields on two-year debt dived 7 basis points US10YT=RR while those on 10-year notes fell to 2.08 percent, from a six-week peak of 2.16 percent.

That in turn helped Wall Street recoup early losses and the Dow .DJI ended down a slim 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.03 percent while the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.14 percent.

Falling yields were not so positive for the U.S. dollar which gave ground to its major competitors. The dollar eased to 118.69 yen JPY=, from 119.26 before the Fed minutes were released, while the euro rose to $1.1403 EUR= from $1.1340.

Sentiment toward the single currency was also helped by signs Greece would ask on Thursday for an extension to its “loan agreement” with the euro zone as it risks running out of cash.

Financial markets had rallied after Athens said it would submit a request to extend the loan agreement for up to six months, hoping this signalled a last minute compromise to avert a bankruptcy and exit from the euro zone.

The biggest gainer in currencies was sterling which hit a seven-year high against the euro after data showed British wages growing strongly, outstripping inflation by the widest margin since before the financial crisis.

Sterling strengthened by more than 1 percent against the euro to 73.505 pence EURGBP=D4, while reaching a 1-1/2-month high on the dollar at $1.5478 GBP=D4.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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Wall Street Lower as Traders Await Fed Minutes – Fox Business

The Dow and S&P 500 ended barely lower on Wednesday after a drop in energy shares but declines were limited by minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which showed policymakers are concerned about raising interest rates too soon.

Exxon Mobil , which fell 2.2 percent to $91.01, was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Dow following an explosion and fire at an Exxon refinery near Los Angeles and a drop in crude oil prices. Also, Berkshire Hathaway disclosed shedding a $3.74 billion investment in Exxon.

The S&P 500 was down 1.5 percent, with U.S. crude oil falling 2.6 percent to settle at $52.14 a barrel.

Fed policymakers expressed concern last month that raising interest rates too soon could pour cold water on the U.S. economic recovery, according to minutes from the Fed’s Jan. 27-28 meeting.

“The minutes reflect our view that while the economy is growing, an interest rate liftoff is not a slam dunk at this point,” said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta.

“Clearly, there are some more dovish members that feel the economy is still not strong enough to support steady pricing, so that is holding the Fed back from normalizing policy.”

Stocks generally have risen with any sign the Fed could raise rates later rather than sooner.

An index of S&P 500 utilities , which tend to do well in a low interest-rate environment, jumped 2.4 percent and was the biggest positive in the S&P 500 as bond yields declined. S&P financial shares , which tend to benefit from a higher rate environment, declined 0.7 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.73 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,029.85, the S&P 500 lost 0.66 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,099.68 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.10 points, or 0.14 percent, to 4,906.36.

The day’s move breaks a two-session string of record closing highs for the S&P 500.

Investors also weighed developments involving Greece. The European Central Bank agreed a modest increase in emergency funding for Greek banks, putting pressure on Athens to strike a financing deal with its European partners before its lenders run out of money.

Fossil Group Inc shares sank 15.7 percent to $83.69 after the fashion accessory maker reported quarterly earnings and revenue below expectations.

Also on the earnings front, Garmin Ltd fell 10.7 percent to $50.71 after the navigation device maker gave an earnings outlook below estimates.

About 6.0 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 7.2 billion average for the month so far, according to BATS Global Markets.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,662 to 1,403, for a 1.18-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,429 issues rose and 1,303 fell for a 1.10-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 58 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 83 new highs and 26 new lows.

(By Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Sam Forgione, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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