Asian stocks gain after Wall Street records

FAN Editor

Asian stocks rose Tuesday after Wall Street’s major indexes hit new highs as China prepared to open a key political meeting.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 3,380.38 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 percent to 21,325.67. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent to 28,744.01 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent to 5,894.00. Seoul advanced 0.2 percent to 2,484.07 while India’s Sensex lost 0.2 percent to 32,577.11. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Singapore gained while Taiwan, Bangkok and Jakarta retreated.

WALL STREET: Stocks set records for a sixth straight week. Financial, technology and energy stocks rose while health care declined. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.2 percent to 2,557.64. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent to 22,956.96. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.3 percent to 6,624.

CHINA PARTY MEETING: The ruling Communist Party opens a twice-a-decade congress on Wednesday to appoint President Xi Jinping to a second five-year term as leader. Investors are watching the party’s personnel reshuffle for signs of possible policy directions. After spending his first term firming up his grip on power, analysts expect Xi to shift focus to economic policy, with an emphasis on tighter party control of state companies that dominate industries including banking, energy and telecoms.

FED WATCH: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a second term, a source familiar with the administration’s Fed search told The Associated Press. Trump has said Yellen, whose term ends Feb. 3, is one of several candidates. Trump criticized Yellen during his campaign but since taking office has praised her. The president met with Stanford University economist John Taylor last week, and interviewed former Fed board member Kevin Warsh and current Fed board member Jerome Powell last month. Trump has also said economics adviser Gary Cohn is being considered.

ANALYST’S QUOTE: Dealers are digesting inflation data “while keeping an eye on geopolitical risk amidst the deluge of Fed chair speculative headlines,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a report. “Also, it’s worth keeping an eye on the expanding laundry list of geopolitical flashpoints,” he said, citing Korea, Iraq, ISIS and U.S.-Turkish tensions. “The Middle East looks like a powder keg waiting to explode.”

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IRAQ TENSIONS: Oil prices jumped Monday after Iraqi forces pushed their Kurdish allies out of the disputed city of Kirkuk, seizing oil fields amid tensions over last month’s Kurdish vote for independence. Oil markets steadied Tuesday. The Kurds and the Iraqi central government in Baghdad have long been divided over the sharing of revenues from the oil fields outside Kirkuk.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 5 cents to $51.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 42 cents on Monday to close at $51.87. Brent crude, used to price international oils, held steady at $57.82 in London. It rose 65 cents the previous session to $57.82.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 112.07 yen from Monday’s 112.18. The euro retreated to $1.1783 from $1.1798.

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