Asian Stocks Drift Lower as Investors Await News on Trade

A bank employee stands near screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in July in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Lee Jin-man / Associated Press
A bank employee stands near screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room in July in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Lee Jin-man / Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets were drifting lower Thursday as investors awaited further moves in global trade disputes.

 

Keeping Score

Thailand’s SET traded at 1,646.89 Monday afternoon, a 0.7 percent gain. Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.1 percent to 22,764.68 while South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 percent to 2,282.29. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.3 percent lower to 28,037.78 while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.5 percent to 2,772.55. Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 6,262.70. Shares rose in Singapore and Indonesia but fell in Taiwan and the Philippines.

 

Asian Development Bank Outlook

The Manila, Philippines-based Asian Development Bank issued a revised economic forecast for the region and for major industrial economies that kept mostly unchanged the estimates for growth it made in April, though it warned that trade tensions pose “a clear downside risk to the outlook for developing Asia.” It forecast growth for the region at 6.0 percent in 2018 and 5.9 percent for 2019.

 

Fed Testimony

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell wrapped up his semi-annual testimony to Congress about economic and monetary policy with an overall positive assessment. However, he warned that trade battles with China and higher U.S. tariffs on foreign products cause higher inflation that might require a change of strategy.

 

Analyst’s Take

“The tone is little changed from yesterday with earnings and the Fed relief carrying markets higher and providing positive leads for us here in Asia. That said, markets lack real conviction amid the waffling sentiment,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.

 

Wall Street

U.S. stock indexes finished slightly higher Wednesday. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,815.62. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3 percent to 25,199.29. The Nasdaq composite finished nearly flat, losing 0.67 points to close at 7,854.44. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.3 percent to 1,691.87.

 

Oil

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 25 cents to $68.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the contract rose 1 percent to finish at $68.76 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 48 cents to $72.42 per barrel in London. It added 1 percent to settle at $72.90 a barrel on Wednesday.

 

Currencies

The dollar rose to 112.94 yen from 112.85 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1614 from $1.1638.