European markets fair better than S&P 500 over weekend
The US stockmarket finished weaker on Friday night, with selling ahead of the weekend pulling the S&P 500 off its intraday record high.
The Dow fell 0.2%, the S&P 500 lost 0.3% and the Nasdaq was down 1.0% for the session.
The European stockmarket had a better session, with investor sentiment boosted by an improvement in European consumer confidence data.
Bonds continued to gain ground at the long end on Friday (yields fell), although they have failed to fully retrace the losses seen on Wednesday following Yellen's FOMC press conference. Concerns over rising tensions between Russia and the West, over Crimea, has increased demand for safe haven US Government bonds.
The Aussie dollar gained ground against the US dollar and the other major currencies, rising to a high above 0.9100 US dollars. Concerns over tensions between Russia and the West have boosted demand for the safe haven Yen, which strengthened versus the US dollar, but still lost some ground against the Aussie dollar. The Euro appreciated versus the US dollar, with better than expected Euro zone economic data providing support for the currency.
The oil price gained further ground as Russian President Putin signed legislation completing the annexation of Crimea.
After sharp FOMC-induced losses earlier in the week, the gold price rose on Friday night, amid talk it had been oversold. Concerns about tensions between Russia and the Ukraine also drove demand for gold.
The Conference Board's leading index rose by 0.2% in January, after a rise of 0.9% in January.
The Euro zone current account surplus widened to €25.3bn in January, from €20.0bn in December.
Euro zone consumer confidence beat consensus expectations, rising to a reading of -9.3 in March, from -12.7 in February, suggesting the European economic recovery is gaining it footing.
Job advertisements in NZ rose by 3.7% in February, taking the annual growth rate to 12.7%. The latest lift in job ads indicates that the unemployment rate should continue to decline over the coming months.
Consumer confidence fell to 132.0 in March, according to the ANZ-Roy Morgan measure, from 133.0 in February. While the index fell this month, the index was at a seven-year high in January.
Fitch ratings agency upgraded its outlook on the US's AAA credit rating from negative to stable.