(Bloomberg) — Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average extended a 15-year high while metals climbed and bond risk declined as investors await progress on Greece’s bailout extension agreed Feb. 20. Oil fluctuated in New York.
The Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent by 1:38 p.m. in Tokyo, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.4 percent. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed. Chinese oil companies dropped in Hong Kong after a break during which oil in New York slipped more than 4 percent. The cost of insuring Asian debt against default was at a two-month low. The euro was little changed, while gold traded at $ 1,203.94 an ounce.
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The government in Athens has until the end of Monday to complete a list of policies in return for a four-month extension of bailout funds after talks concluded late on Feb. 20. German business confidence data are due while Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks to lawmakers later this week. Officials in Kiev said pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine’s east continued to attack troops, while a bomb killed two people at a rally in the city of Kharkiv.
“It looks like Greek debt negotiations will continue to hold sway over coming months with the four-month extension only granting a small window of reprieve.” Con Williams and Sam Tuck, analysts at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., wrote in a note today. “The continued geopolitical ructions with Russia over the Ukraine, as well as the unrest in the Middle East means there are many issues that will continue to hold sway in political discussions, distracting politicians from economic policy.”
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The euro weakened as much as 0.2 percent before trading little changed at $ 1.1385. The U.K. pound slipped 0.1 percent to $ 1.5374 and the dollar gained 0.6 percent to 94.42 Swiss centimes. The Greek reform measures are still subject to validation by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, the institutions collectively known as the troika which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed not to recognize.
Japan’s Topix index fluctuated near its highest close since December 2007. The broadest measure of equities soared 17 percent since Oct. 31, when the Bank of Japan pledged to triple its share purchases and the $ 1.1 trillion public pension fund doubled its allocation to local stocks. Smaller companies haven’t fared so well, with a gauge of startups adding 0.3 percent in the period.
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Cnooc Ltd., China’s largest offshore oil producer, fell 2.6 percent and PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil company, retreated 1.8 percent in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Index was little changed after rising for five straight days going into the Lunar New Year holiday. A gauge of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong fell 0.5 percent, with mainland markets not reopening until Wednesday.
South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.4 percent and the won slipped 0.8 percent as the country’s markets opened for the first time since Feb. 18. The won touched 1,111.45, the weakest since Feb. 12. Yields on the country’s three-year notes rose two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 2.08 percent, Korea Exchange prices show.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil for April delivery traded 0.2 percent higher at $ 50.91 a barrel. U.S. oil stockpiles rose to a fresh record in the week through Feb. 13. That’s coinciding with calls by the United Steelworkers, which represents 30,000 U.S. oil workers, for four more plants to join the biggest strike since 1980 as talks dragged on with Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
Oman, the biggest Middle Eastern oil producer that’s not a member of OPEC, is boosting crude output to as much as possible with the global price rout over, said Salim Al Aufi, undersecretary of the oil and gas ministry.
Norway’s krone retreated as much as 0.5 percent, tracking lower oil prices. Rising supply from the U.S. to Russia is contributing to a worldwide crude surplus that Oman estimates at 1 million barrels a day. Brent crude futures increased 0.3 percent to $ 60.40 a barrel after climbing 5 percent this year through Friday. The contract plunged 48 percent last year.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index climbed 0.3 percent after capping its first weekly decline since the five days through Jan. 30.
Nickel for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange gained 1 percent to $ 14,095 a metric ton after two weeks of retreat. Aluminum advanced 1 percent after ending last week at the lowest since Jan. 15.
Gold for immediate delivery fell for a fourth straight week through Friday, the longest such streak since September 2013. The net-long position in gold tumbled 18 percent to 110,164 futures and options contracts in the week ended Feb. 17, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.
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