Asian stocks dropped as the yen strengthened with Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average snapping its longest rally in 4 1/2 years on its first trading day of 2014. Natural gas climbed amid cold weather in the U.S.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.4 percent by 9:59 a.m. in Tokyo, as the Nikkei 225 slid 1.6 percent, declining for the first time in 10 trading days. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures rose 0.1 percent. The yen gained 0.2 percent to 104.64 per dollar after halting a nine-week slump last week, while Australia’s dollar extended its rebound. Gas futures rose 0.7 percent and oil in New York climbed 0.2 percent after sliding last week. Palladium climbed while platinum retreated.
The Nikkei 225 surged 57 percent last year, the best performance among 24 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg as the yen weakened 18 percent, the most since 1979. Services data for nations from China and India to Germany, France and the U.S. are due today. The coldest air in almost 20 years is sweeping over the central U.S. toward the east coast after snow last week fueled power price gains and damaged winter crops.
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