U.S. stocks, commodities rise as yen weakens to lowest since ’09

‘Still Bullish’

“Earnings clearly are going to be the driver for a lot of volatility in the next couple of weeks,” Omar Aguilar, the San Francisco-based chief investment officer of equities at Charles Schwab Investment Management said in a telephone interview. The firm had $219.3 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31. “The consensus is that we’re going to have a pretty diverse and poor earnings season. I think we’ll probably see a lot of surprises on the positive side, which is good.”

The S&P GSCI climbed for the first time in seven days. Wheat jumped 1.9% after China said it purchased almost 1 million metric tons of U.S. grain. China bought the soft red winter wheat last week, state-owned researcher Grain.gov.cn said in an e-mailed report today, without saying where it got the information.

West Texas Intermediate rose 0.7% after the biggest weekly drop in six months as militants and government forces clashed in Nigeria and talks between Iran and world powers failed to make progress. Natural gas tumbled 1%, reversing an earlier rally of as much as 1.3%, amid forecasts of warmer weather in the eastern U.S. that would limit demand for the heating fuel.

Gold futures declined for the fourth time in five sessions, slipping 0.2%, as the dollar’s advance reduced the appeal of the metal as an alternative investment.

Yen Declines

The yen weakened 1.8% to 99.32 per dollar. The currency depreciated against all of its 16 major peers. BOJ officials said last week they will boost monthly bond purchases to 7.5 trillion yen ($80 billion), exceeding the 5.2 trillion yen forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The yen has slumped 21% in the past six months, the worst performance of 10 developed market currencies tracked by the Bloomberg Correlation Weighted Indexes.

The cost of insuring against losses on Portugal’s sovereign debt with credit-default swaps increased 31 basis points to 428, the highest since Jan. 2. The PSI-20 Index of stocks fell 1.4% as Banco Espirito Santo SA and Banco Comercial Portugues SA declined in Lisbon trading.

The country’s Constitutional Court blocked a plan to suspend some payments to state workers and pensioners, leaving the government needing to find more spending cuts to meet the terms of the country’s international bailout.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose three basis points to 1.74%.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% and Taiwan’s Taiex Index tumbled 2.4%, the most in 10 months, as China reported more infections from a deadly bird influenza and trading resumed after four-day weekend. South Korea’s Kospi sank 0.4% and the won slid 0.8% as the risk of conflict with North Korea spurred capital outflows.

Bloomberg News

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