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Asian stocks closed mostly lower, as shares of Samsung Group were in focus after the arrest of its chief. Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday, over his alleged role in the corruption scandal that prompted South Korea's parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

South Korea's Kospi finished nearly flat at 2,080.58. Samsung Electronics dropped 0.4 percent at 1,893,000 Korean won. Shares of Samsung SDI rose 0.8 percent, Samsung Electro-Mechanics added 0.8 percent, Samsung C&T shed two percent while Samsung Engineering was down 1.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 retreated 0.58 percent to 19,234.62 and the Topix slid 0.42 percent to 1,544.54. Sharp bucked the trend and finished 2.80 percent higher at 331 yen, after the Japanese electronics firm revised its earnings estimates.

Australia's ASX 200 was down 0.18 percent at 5,805, as major resource producers declined more than one percent each. China's Shanghai composite fell 0.86 percent to 3,201.96 while the Shenzhen composite dropped 0.66 percent to 1,945.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 0.5 percent lower.

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Oil dropped to $66 a barrel on Friday, under pressure from concerns that rising U.S. oil output and exports will offset OPEC-led attempts to erode stockpiles with output curbs.

U.S. oil production last week was steady at 10.27 million barrels per day, a record level if confirmed by monthly figures. Crude exports jumped to more than 2 million bpd, close to a record 2.1 million hit in October.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 45 cents at $65.94 at 1052 GMT. Prices had rallied in early 2018 and reached $71.28 on Jan. 25, the highest since December 2014. U.S. crude fell 34 cents to $62.43.

Oil also slipped as the U.S. dollar strengthened. A stronger dollar can make oil and other commodities denominated in the U.S. currency more expensive for other currency holders.

The latest decline for crude came despite the U.S. Energy Information Administration reporting crude stocks fell unexpectedly by 1.6 million barrels. Analysts said low import figures contributed to the decline.

U.S. production is expected to rise even more this year and top 11 million bpd in late 2018, a headwind for OPEC efforts to drain stockpiles.

However, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is not outwardly worried by rising U.S. output and says it is comfortable at the speed the market is moving toward balance.

In January 2017, OPEC and allies including Russia began to cut production by about 1.8 million bpd, almost 2 percent of global supply, to get rid of a glut that had built up since 2014 and that led to a price collapse.

OPEC wants to reduce oil inventories held by industrialized nations to their five-year average and is getting closer to that goal, although officials are starting to talk about looking at different metrics.

2018.02.23 12:07:00 UTC+00

Dollar Climbs as Global Stocks Remain Muted

A stronger dollar and slightly higher global borrowing costs kept world shares subdued on Friday.

Europe's main London, Frankfurt and Paris markets barely budged in early moves, keeping MSCI's 47- country world index just in the black on the day but facing its third week in negative territory in the last four.

Modest gains for the dollar meant the euro was set to post its second biggest weekly loss in nearly four months, as caution over the Italian election gave bond markets there their toughest week of 2018.

U.S. yields are climbing by more than 50 basis points since early December, more than the 38 basis points for German government debt.

Benchmark Treasury 10-year note yields rose to a four-year high of 2.957 percent on Wednesday though they were a shade down at 2.904 percent on Friday.

The backsliding also stalled the dollar's overnight gains in Asia. It was virtually treading water against most major currencies, buying 106.8 yen and at $1.2325 and $1.3965 against the euro and pound.

It was still up more than 1 percent for the week and headed for its third gain in the last four weeks.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.9 percent on Friday to add to the previous week's 3.9 percent gain.

Gold prices fell on Friday and were poised for their sharpest weekly decline in 2-½ months as the dollar firmed during the week.

Spot gold lost 0.2 percent at $1,328.90 per ounce, on track for a fifth session of fall in six. It has shed 1.4 percent so far this week, its largest since the week ended Dec. 8, 2017.

U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,331.2 per ounce.

Analysts said they expected gold to remain range bound, citing Wednesday's release of the latest Federal Reserve minutes which showed U.S. central bank policy makers remained worried about inflation and committed to hiking interest rates.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, rose 0.2 percent at 89.883. It hit a 10-day high of 90.235 on Thursday after notching a three-year low of 88.253 late last week and was poised for a gain of nearly one percent this week.

Spot gold is expected to increase to $1,354 per ounce as it has stabilised around a support at $1,326, according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.

Barrick Gold predicted lower gold production over the next decade, risking its rank as the world's largest bullion producer, but executives said they will not make acquisitions simply to state a call for growth.

Among other precious metals, silver dropped 0.2 percent to $16.59 an ounce, palladium climbed 0.1 percent to $1,038.97 and platinum rose 0.3 percent to $996.90.

See also: Current support and resistance levels
Feb 26 at 3:24 UTC

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