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
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
jumped 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite
slipped 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi
jumped 0.9% and Australia S&P ASX 200
slipped 0.3%. Stocks rose in Taiwan
Among individual stocks, Sumitomo Metal Mining
and SoftBank Group
rose in Tokyo trading, while tech companies Samsung
and SK Hynix
jumped in Seoul. Investment bank China International Capital
surged in Hong Kong, along with China Life Insurance
and auto maker Geely
. Mining names such as Rio Tinto
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
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
gained 0.1% to 2,779.76, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was almost flat at 25,891.32. The Nasdaq composite
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.
rose to 110.79 yen from 110.63 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1345 from $1.1343.
U.S. benchmark crude
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
, the standard for international oil prices, added 7 cents to $66.52 per barrel.
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