Stocks in Asia settled mostly higher today, bolstered by bullish trade data out of Beijing. Chinese exports surged by a stronger-than-forecast 25% in January, netting the country a trade surplus of $29.2 billion for the month. However, Japan sat out the regional rally, pressured by a sharp post-earnings drop from Sony. By the close, South Korea's Kospi rose 1%, China's Shanghai Composite advanced 0.6%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng tacked on 0.2%, and Japan's Nikkei lost 1.8%.
Resource stocks are among the top performers in Europe at midday, with traders responding to positive news on the Chinese economy. Progress was also made at the European Union (EU) summit, where officials have agreed in principle to a long-term budget for the currency bloc. At last check, the French CAC 40 has tacked on 0.5%, London's FTSE 100 has gained 0.4%%, and the German DAX is 0.2% higher.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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