Asian shares waver in muted trading ahead of Thanksgiving

By , on November 20, 2017

FILE: Philippine Stock Exchange
FILE: Philippine Stock Exchange

TOKYO — Asian shares are mixed in muted trading Monday ahead of the Thanksgiving holidays in the U.S., as gloom carried over from Friday’s retreat on Wall Street. Japan reported its exports rose 14 per cent in October from a year earlier on strong demand from China and the U.S.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6 per cent to finish at 22,261.76 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 per cent to 5,945.70. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 per cent to 2,527.67. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.1 per cent at 29,228.49, while the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.2 per cent to 3,377.09. India’s Sensex was flat and markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

JAPAN TRADE: Japan’s trade surplus fell more than 40 per cent in October from a year earlier, despite strong growth in exports to China, the U.S. and the EU, as costs for imports of oil, gas and coal surged. Customs figures released Monday showed imports rose almost 19 per cent from the same month a year earlier in October to 6.41 trillion yen ($57 billion) while exports were up 14 per cent at 6.7 trillion yen ($59 billion). The resulting surplus of 285.4 billion yen ($2.54 billion) compared with a 481.2 billion yen surplus a year earlier.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.3 per cent to finish the week at 2,578.85, while the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 0.4 per cent to 23,358.24. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.2 per cent to 6,782.79 after it closed at a record high Thursday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller and more U.S.-focused stocks climbed 0.4 per cent to 1,492.82. Most of the companies on the New York Stock Exchange rose, but the S&P 500 finished slightly lower for the second week in a row after an eight-week winning streak.

TAX WATCH: The U.S. Congress is due to vote on a $1.5 trillion measure to overhaul business and personal income taxes after Thanksgiving. The provision to repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have insurance has emerged as a major sticking point with those who say that issue should be dealt with separately from the push by President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans to overhaul the tax code.

FED WATCH: Market players are also watching for release later this week of the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for clues on what may happen with interest rates. The FOMC minutes are expected to reaffirm a December rate hike, but there are still questions on what might happen after that, into next year.

THE QUOTE: “Thanksgiving week in the U.S. and a rather light data calendar could set the stage for a fairly quiet week. But best not to confuse quiet for calm,” says Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 4 cents to $56.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.36 a barrel on Friday, to $55.71 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 9 cents to $62.63 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar inched down to 112.00 yen from 112.09 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro slipped to $1.1740 from $1.1791.