Thrust and parry

Equities can't hold gains

Economic Reports

Among today’s economic reports, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of sentiment rose to 81.6 this month from 81.2 in January, indicating more consumers grew optimistic about the outlook for the economy.

Gross domestic product grew at a 2.4 percent annualized rate from October through December, compared with the 3.2 percent gain issued last month, revised figures showed. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2.5 percent increase. Another report showed contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes rose less than forecast in January, adding to signs housing was weakening in early 2014.

Bonds Slip

Treasuries fell for the first time in four days as the consumer confidence data reduced the refuge appeal of U.S. government debt. Benchmark 10-year yields rose three basis points to 2.67 percent, after declining to the lowest level since Feb. 7 yesterday.

The euro gained against 14 of its 16 main peers, climbing 0.6 percent versus the yen, as investors welcomed the European inflation data as a sign that the economic situation in the currency bloc is stabilizing. Sweden’s krona rose at least 0.7 percent against all of its 16 major peers, as gross domestic product rose 1.7 percent from the third quarter, more than double the 0.6 percent seen in a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts.

Yields on securities from France, the Netherlands and Belgium increased.

The Stoxx 600 ended the month with a 4.8 percent gain, the most since July. The gauge is at the highest level since 2007.

Emerging Markets

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 0.3 percent, advancing 3.2 percent in February, the first monthly gain since October. China’s yuan fell the most on record on speculation the central bank will widen the currency’s trading band.

Ukraine’s hryvnia rallied 7.6 percent to 9.94 per dollar, paring this month slide to 13 percent. Ukraine’s deposed ex- President Viktor Yanukovych said he’s still the nation’s rightful leader and urged Russia to refrain from military intervention in the southern Crimea region, where unrest spread.

The new government said it had enough reserves to pay all creditors and that it stands ready to meet all demands for aid while the central bank limited access to foreign-currency deposits.

U.S. natural gas rose 2.1 percent, climbing for the first time in four days, on forecasts for below-normal March temperatures that would erode stockpiles of the heating fuel. Futures are down 24 percent this week, poised for the biggest slump since December 1996. Crude oil increased 0.2 percent to $102.50 a barrel.

Wheat gained 2.6 percent, poised for an 8.8 percent advance this month, the most since July 2012, on concern freezing conditions damaged crops in the U.S.

Gold declined 0.8 percent, trimming a monthly advance to 6.6 percent, as some traders booked profits after prices climbed to a 17-week high and amid speculation a weaker yuan may hurt demand from China.

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