Modest gains for European shares and the broader US markets contrasted with hits to the largest US multinationals and industrial commodities as investors await events. Fears of tariff retaliation restrained buying, as did tonight’s read on US inflation. Bond prices rose and the Japanese Yen strengthened as a key architect of monetary policy was implicated in a land scandal.

Despite the general support for shares internationally exposed Boeing and Caterpillar slumped. The seeming tariff related selling dragged the Dow and S&P500 into the read, although the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 rose. European investors were similarly sanguine. However a sell-off in oil, lead and aluminium suggests sentiment soured.

The Japanese finance minister faces hard questions over the sale of land to a private group connected to the Prime Minister. The strengthening Yen will likely lead to Nikkei selling, and the tone could spread across the Asia Pacific region today. Australian futures are pointing to a flat start, but commodity weakness could also spark selling. Home loan data due this morning is forecast to show a drop of 0.2% for January, potentially exacerbating major bank concerns.

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