SINGAPORE — Asian markets were mixed Thursday as positive sentiment from U.S. economic data and the country’s willingness to strike a trade deal with Canada was shaken by a weaker dollar.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent to 22,883.64 and the Kospi in South Korea gained 0.3 percent to 2,316.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.4 percent lower at 28,297.41. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.6 percent to 2,752.13. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 6,369.00.
WALL STREET: Gains by big technology companies and Amazon took U.S. indexes higher on Wednesday. Stocks have rallied for four days as investors grew more hopeful about trade talks between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The S&P 500 index closed 0.6 percent higher at 2,914.04, a record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent to 26,124.57 and the Nasdaq composite jumped 1 percent to a record 8,109.69. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 0.4 percent to 1,734.75.
U.S ECONOMY GROWS: The U.S. economy grew at a strong 4.2 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the best showing in nearly four years, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
Strength in business investment offset slightly slower consumer spending, placing growth on track to produce the country’s strongest full-year gain in more than a decade. Economists expect growth to slow to a still-solid 3 percent annual rate the rest of the year, resulting in full-year growth of 3 percent for 2018.
POSSIBLE TRADE DEAL: President Donald Trump has said that efforts to reach a deal with Canada in the new North American Free Trade Agreement were “probably on track”. The longtime U.S. ally and the country’s second-largest trading partner after China had been left out of talks for the past five weeks. Canada has until Friday to reach a deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was a “possibility of getting to a good deal for Canada” by Trump’s deadline but said the country will not sign a bad agreement. Mexico, long the target of Trump’s ire, has cut a preliminary deal with the United States to replace NAFTA with a pact that’s meant, among other things, to shift more manufacturing into the United States.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The positive impulse seen in the U.S. market has not flown through to Asia. Weakness of the dollar has reversed sentiment in the markets overnight,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said in an interview.
ENERGY: Oil prices have extended their gains on concerns that looming sanctions on Iran may cause supply to drop. Benchmark U.S. crude added 13 cents to $69.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract edged 1.4 percent higher and closed Wednesday at $69.51. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 12 cents to $77.58 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 111.63 yen from 111.69 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1703 from $1.1699.