Most Asian-Pacific markets went up Friday, as investors anticipated further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.4%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.1% and South Korea's Kospi Composite gained 0.2%. Taiwan's Taiex inched up 0.1%, New Zealand's NZX 50 advanced 1.1% and shares in the Philippines climbed 0.3%. In afternoon trading, India's Sensex surged 1.5% and Singapore's Straits Times Index went up 0.8%. Hong Kong and Chinese markets were closed for a holiday.
Declining prices and rising consumer confidence were not enough to boost retail spending in the eurozone in June. Retail sales fell 0.2% compared with May, according to Eurostat, the EU's statistics office. In Europe's biggest economy, Germany, retail sales dropped 1.8%.
Sovereign-wealth funds have become among the heaviest speculators in important U.S. commodities such as oil, corn and cotton, congressional investigators and some Wall Street traders said. Some lawmakers implied that SWF activity played a part in the recent fluctuation of oil prices. In June, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said the funds were not a prominent factor in commodity trading.
Confidence in the ability of the federal government to rescue banks has hit its lowest level, which could mean trouble for economic-recovery efforts. "You see a massive potential for financial meltdown on a global scale," said T.J. Marta, fixed-income strategist at RBC Capital Markets. Lawmakers grilled Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about the recovery efforts when the two men appeared before a Senate panel this week.