Opening Wrap Dec 21, 2017: ‘Iura novit curia’.

In Asian Equity Markets Japan’s Nikkei index fell on Thursday, taking its cue from losses on Wall Street, with weakness seen in retail and real estate sectors.

The Nikkei was down 0.37 percent at 22,806.28 at the end of morning trading.

The broader Topix was down 0.17 percent at 1,818.14.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan fell 0.06 percent in thin trade.

South Korea was dragged down 1.4 percent by weakness in Samsung, but Indonesia rose after Fitch upgraded the country’s credit rating.

In Currency Markets the dollar traded near a one-week high against the yen on Thursday, supported by a rise in U.S. bond yields and showing limited reaction after the Bank of Japan kept interest rates steady as expected. The dollar held steady at 113.40 yen, clinging near Wednesday’s high of 113.47 yen, its strongest level since Dec. 13.

The euro held steady at $1.1866, having gained around 1 percent so far this week.

Against the yen, the euro was little changed at 134.56 yen. On Wednesday, the euro had risen to as high as 134.76 yen, its strongest level against the yen since October 2015.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was steady at 93.383.

In Commodities Markets  oil prices fell on Thursday as rising U.S. output, fast approaching 10 million barrels per day (bpd), outweighed a decrease in American crude inventories.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $58.02 a barrel, down 7 cents from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures were at $64.45 a barrel, down 11 cents.

Both crude benchmarks gained around 1 percent during their previous sessions, lifted by official data showing a 6.5 million-barrel fall in U.S. crude inventories in the week to Dec. 15 to 436 million barrels, the lowest level since October 2015.

Gold was underpinned by the softer dollar to stand at $1,267.31 an ounce.

In US Equity Markets the  main indexes fell on Wednesday, pausing after recent record highs as both houses of Congress approved a long-anticipated tax overhaul.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11 percent, to 24,726.65.

The S&P 500 lost 0.08 percent, to 2,679.25.

The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.04 percent, to 6,960.96.

The Dow Jones Transport Index jumped 0.9 percent to a record high close.

It was helped by a rise in FedEx. The company’s shares were up 3.5 percent and earlier in the session touched a record high, a day after it reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

The consumer staples index fell 0.4 percent, weighed by a 2.5-percent slide in Philip Morris International Inc.

In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices fell across the board on Thursday, as Treasuries retreated on prospects of the U.S. tax overhaul leading to higher debt issuance and more aggressive rate hikes. The five-year JGB yield rose 1 basis point to minus 0.095 percent.

The 10-year yield was 1.5 basis points higher at 0.065 percent, its highest since Nov. 1.

-R.W.N II

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