Asian shares higher as region eyes Trump-Kim summit

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were higher in muted trading Wednesday as investors watch the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.5 percent in early trading to 21,550.02. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 6,148.70.

South Korea’s Kospi edged up nearly 0.2 percent to 2,230.37. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 28,909.38, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.9 percent to 2,966.84.

Kim and Trump both arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday and their Hanoi meetings get underway later in the day Wednesday. The two leaders first met last June in Singapore, a summit that was long on historic pageantry but short in any enforceable agreements for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Trump and Kim are to have a private dinner Wednesday evening and discussions on Thursday in hopes of building on an aspirational agreement they made in Singapore.

U.S. stock indexes capped a day of wobbly trading with slight losses Tuesday, erasing some of their modest gains from a day earlier. The market changed course several times during the day as investors balanced conflicting U.S. economic data and testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

The Fed chief told Congress that the U.S. economy should keep expanding at a solid, though somewhat slower pace this year, and reassured markets that the central bank would be “patient” in raising interest rates. Those comments, which indicate steady policy ahead, cheered sentiments among Asian markets.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.21 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,793.90. The benchmark index, which has finished higher the past four weeks in a row, broke a two-day winning streak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 33.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 26,057.98. The Nasdaq composite slid 5.16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,549.30. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 11.32 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,577.48. Major European indexes finished mostly higher.

U.S. benchmark crude added 52 cents to $56.02 a barrel. It was essentially flat at $55.50 a barrel in New York overnight. Brent crude, used to price international oils, 34 cents to $65.70 a barrel in London.

The dollar declined to 110.57 yen from 110.86 yen Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1384 from $1.1363.

By YURI KAGEYAMA , Associated Press