Having gained on all days during the shortened week last week, US indices ended with a weekly gain of more than 3%, the most since July. The S&P 500 added 0.1% on Thursday as we headed into the Easter long weekend while the Dow fell by the same amount, dragged by IBM which posted an eighth consecutive quarterly decline in sales. Google shares fell 3.65% following earnings which disappointed as the company faces risings costs and lower revenues from cost-per-click advertisements. Shares at the eastern version of Twitter, Weibo soared more than 19% following its debut on the Nasdaq. The decision to sell fewer shares at a lower price paid off as it curbed concerns that the stock may be overpriced, inviting more interest back into the social media stock. Easing tensions in Ukraine have also helped to calm markets after four-way talks in Geneva revealed an agreement to de-escalate the crisis in Eastern Ukraine. The effect was seen on falling US treasuries, with 10-year yields rising by as much as five points to 2.7%, helping to support the ailing dollar. Casualties over the weekend, however, may have made recent efforts futile with three reported killings in the city of Slovyansk. Elsewhere, better economic data have also provided support for US equities and the dollar. Jobless claims came in much better than expectations at 304K versus 316K, albeit rising slightly from last week’s figure of 302K. Considering a buffer for the Easter holidays, the figure is surprisingly upbeat while its four-week average is also at its lowest level since October 2007. Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia state also proved resilient. Having recovered sharply from the effects of a cold winter, the index put in its best reading since September 2013, at 16.6. Earlier this morning, we were reminded of the inefficacy of Abenomics, following the trade balance data which continues to show a swelling deficit. Despite a lower currency, exports have not increased as manufacturers are not taking the opportunity to slash prices overseas. Trade is instead hit by higher import costs of energy. Looking ahead this week, US Q1 corporate earnings will continue to take centre stage with recent beleaguered stock Netflix reporting later tonight, while big names like Apple and Facebook report on Wednesday after the bell. With only second-tier economic data due for release this week, the focus will likely be on corporate earnings in the US, with nearly one third of S&P 500 companies reporting earnings. In local markets, PACC Offshore Services Holdings will make its debut later this week with aims to raise over $388m from its IPO. Given the lack of mainboard listing this year, POSH IPO may generate some interest amongst investors.

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