Asian Stocks Mixed as Markets Watch Clinton-Trump Debate

BEIJING (AP) -
A man walks past an electronic board displaying the Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man walks past an electronic board displaying the Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Asian stocks were mixed Monday as traders watched the second U.S. presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, with Japanese and Hong Kong markets closed for holidays.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.3 percent to 3,042.56 points and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.1 percent to 5,474.90. India’s Sensex added 0.3 percent to 28,133.54, while Seoul’s Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,050.81. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Southeast Asia declined.

Investors were watching the second debate between Clinton and Trump for signs of whether Trump, who has called for curbs on trade and immigration, can remain a viable candidate following a recent controversy.

“The issue for markets is the growing defection from Republican ranks against Donald Trump and the growing calls for him to step down,” Angus Nicholson of IG said in a report. “It’s not entirely clear if Trump even could be replaced at this point, and he stated he would not be stepping down over the weekend. But the risk of Trump being replaced with another candidate adds a new element of uncertainty for markets.”

U.S. stocks ended lower Friday, giving the market its first weekly decline in a month. Real estate and phone companies extended declines. Once favored by investors for their relative stability and steady dividends, they have become less attractive at the prospect of higher interest rates. Real estate companies lost 5 percent during the week, and phone companies slumped 3.8 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.01 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,240.49. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 7.03 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,153.74. The Nasdaq composite declined 14.45 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,292.40.

The government reported employers hired last month at a slower pace than forecast, but not slow enough to signal the economy is in trouble and cause the Federal Reserve to hold off on raising interest rates this year. The data showed U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs last month. Job growth has averaged 178,000 a month so far this year, down from last year’s pace of 229,000. Most investors expect the Fed to raise rates in December after holding them near zero since 2008.

The latest hiring “remains good enough to employ the growing population and keeping the unemployment rate at about 5 percent,” Ric Spooner of CMC Markets said in a report. “If your view is that this is a good enough scenario to allow the Fed to lift rates again this year, there was nothing in Friday’s data to change that position.”

Benchmark U.S. crude tumbled 46 cents to $49.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 63 cents on Friday to close at $49.81. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 39 cents to $51.54 in London. The contract lost 58 cents the previous session to close at $51.93.

The dollar was unchanged at 102.89 yen. The euro declined to $1.1189 from $1.1201.