TOKYO - Asian shares were mostly higher Friday after gains on Wall Street but investors continued to watch for news about U.S.-China trade friction.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.1 per cent to 21,524.02, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent to 5,685.50 in early trading. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 per cent to 2,070.83. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up less than 0.1 per cent to 26,164.46, while the Shanghai Composite was also up less than 0.1 per cent at 2,606.52. Shares were also higher in Indonesia and Taiwan.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Clouded with much uncertainty, markets will likely remain jittery and may struggle to hold on to the gains," says Jayden Loh, a Trader at IG in Singapore.
WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index fell 4.11 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,695.95. The benchmark index had been down as much as 2.9 per cent. The Dow dropped 79.40 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 24,947.67. The average briefly slumped as much as 784 points. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite reversed an early loss to finish with a gain, adding 29.83 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 7,188.26. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks gave up 3.34 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,477.41. U.S. stock and bond trading were closed Wednesday because of a national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush.
FED WATCH: Last week, stocks jumped after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the central bank might consider a pause in rate hikes next year while it gauges the impact of its credit tightening program. The Fed has raised rates three times this year and is expected to boost rates for a fourth time at its Dec. 18-19 meeting of policymakers. At the same time, there has been growing evidence that global economic growth is slowing.
TRADE WATCH: The gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys from foreign countries hit $55.5 billion in October, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The politically sensitive deficit with China rose 7.1 per cent to a record $43.1 billion. The dramatic arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, has driven home why it will be so hard for the Trump administration to resolve its deepening conflict with China. Skepticism is growing about the trade truce Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping reached last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude fell 24 cents to $51.25 a barrel. It dropped 2.6 per cent to $51.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 39 cents to $59.67.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 112.75 yen from 112.80 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1376 from $1.1345.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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