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Japan Stock Rally Falters as Yen Gains Before Trump

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Caution crept into financial markets ahead of Donald Trump’s address to Congress, as a rally in Tokyo stocks melted away and the yen strengthened.

Asian shares erased an earlier advance, paring gains for the month. Japan’s Topix gave up almost all of its 1 percent rise in the final half hour of trading. The shift in sentiment followed advances in the U.S. that pushed the winning streak for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 12 sessions, the longest in 30 years. Treasuries were flat after Monday’s declines as the odds of a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike in March jumped. Crude remained above $54 a barrel.

Even as global equities climbed to record levels, investors have remained wary as they await details of Trump’s economic plans and watch for signals on the timing for higher rates. The White House began sketching out spending plans Monday, as Trump said he’d spend “big” on infrastructure, while adding that tax details won’t become clear until after the costs of repealing the Affordable Care Act are known.

“Dollar bears should take caution if Trump follows through on infrastructure and Yellen ratchets up the rate-hike rhetoric to end the week,” said Stephen Innes, senior currencies trader in the Asia Pacific at Oanda Corp. “The big question for the market is, will Trump use tonight’s platform to execute?”

Fed Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan said policy makers should raise interest rates “sooner rather than later” and not pay excessive attention to market expectations. The chance of a rate hike at the central bank’s March 14-15 meeting jumped to 50 percent, federal funds futures showed, from 34 percent just five days ago.

What’s coming up this week:

Trump is expected to outline his priorities for the nation in an address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night in the U.S.

Fed officials are making speeches this week, including Chair Janet Yellen who addresses an event in Chicago on Friday.

The Bank of Japan is due to introduce more clarity on its bond-purchase operations by announcing the exact dates of its monthly purchases and how much it plans to buy.

This week’s economic data include U.S. personal income and spending. India and Australia will report on fourth-quarter GDP. China’s PMI data are expected to show continued expansion.

Stocks

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.2 percent as of 4:24 p.m. in Tokyo, heading lower for a third straight day. The index is still up 2.2 percent for February, after a 4.9 percent gain for January.

The Topix ended with a gain of 0.1 percent, following Monday’s 1 percent decline. The gauge ended February with a 0.9 percent increase.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index jumped 1.3 percent, the most since Jan. 4. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.2 percent and South Korea’s Kospi increased 0.3 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.7 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.4 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 0.5 percent, reducing its monthly gain to 4.8 percent.

Currencies

The yen added 0.3 percent to 112.35 per dollar, after sliding 0.5 percent Monday to snap a three-day winning streak. The South Korean won also climbed 0.3 percent.

The Aussie advanced less than 0.1 percent to 76.76 U.S. cents ahead of Wednesday’s GDP report.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent after a 0.1 percent advance Monday.

Bonds

Yields on 10-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 2.36 percent after rising five basis points Monday, reversing three straight days of declines.

Australian benchmark yields added one basis point to 2.72 percent.

Commodities

WTI crude futures were steady at $54.06 a barrel, near the highest since July 2015.

Gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,253.59, heading for a 3.5 percent increase for February.

Iron ore futures fell 2.5 percent, after Monday’s 2.7 percent jump. The metal is heading for a monthly gain of 7.1 percent.

Source: Bloomberg