Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Wednesday after a modestly high finish on Wall Street that extended the market’s gains into a fourth week.

The Nikkei 225 index

NIK, +0.43%

  rose 0.3% despite news that Japan’s exports sank 8.4% in January from a year earlier, far more than forecast.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index

HSI, +0.74%

  jumped 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -0.34%

 slipped 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, +0.95%

  jumped 0.9% and Australia S&P ASX 200

XJO, -0.17%

  slipped 0.3%. Stocks rose in Taiwan

Y9999, +1.12%

 , Singapore

STI, +0.49%

  and Indonesia

JAKIDX, -0.05%


Among individual stocks, Sumitomo Metal Mining

5713, +3.33%

  and SoftBank Group

9984, +2.84%

  rose in Tokyo trading, while tech companies Samsung

005930, +1.96%

  and SK Hynix

000660, +2.17%

 jumped in Seoul. Investment bank China International Capital

3908, +2.72%

  surged in Hong Kong, along with China Life Insurance

2628, +5.26%

  and auto maker Geely

0175, +2.50%

 . Mining names such as Rio Tinto

RIO, +2.62%

  and BHP

BHP, +2.51%

  advanced in Australia as gold prices rallied, while bank stocks fell.

Uncertainty over the costly trade conflict between the U.S. and China has clouded the outlook for trade as well as company profits. But stocks shook off an early wobble on Wall Street as solid earnings from Walmart

WMT, +2.21%

  encouraged investors to bid up other retailers and consumer goods companies. Communication services stocks and banks also contributed to the broad gains.

Roughly 81% of S&P 500 companies have reported results for the last three months of 2018, delivering earnings growth of 13.1% versus a year earlier, according to FactSet. First-quarter snapshots are expected to result in a 2.5% decline in earnings, however.

The benchmark S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.15%

  gained 0.1% to 2,779.76, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.03%

  was almost flat at 25,891.32. The Nasdaq composite

COMP, +0.19%

  added 0.2% to 7,486.77.

Major European indexes finished mostly lower.

Investors are keeping a close eye on talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators in Washington that are aimed at ending a trade war between the world’s largest economies.

Data showed a 17% drop in Japan’s exports to China and 13% decline in exports to the rest of Asia including China helped dragged overall exports sharply lower. Japan’s imports fell 0.6%, leaving a deficit of 1.4 trillion yen ($12.8 billion), up 50% from a year earlier. The weak numbers suggest China’s slowdown and trade tensions with the United States are hurting demand.

The dollar

USDJPY, +0.19%

  rose to 110.79 yen from 110.63 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1345 from $1.1343.

U.S. benchmark crude

CLH9, +0.11%

  gained 22 cents to $56.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 0.8 percent to settle at $56.45 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude

LCOJ9, -0.17%

 , the standard for international oil prices, added 7 cents to $66.52 per barrel.

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