Asian Markets Mixed Ahead of Trump’s Inauguration

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -
A man stands in front of electronic boards showing stock prices and exchange rate between Japanese Yen and U.S dollar outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, Friday. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Asian markets were mixed in cautious trading Friday ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. China’s report that its economy grew at a 6.8 percent pace in October-December was in line with expectations.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3 percent to 19,137.91 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.7 percent to 3,122.76. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent to 5,654.80, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.6 percent to 22,915.42 and South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to 2,068.97. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.

The Dow Jones industrial average erased its gains for 2017 on Thursday, falling for the fifth day in a row as the post-election Trump rally waned ahead of the inauguration. Investors will be looking for clues in Trump’s inauguration speech for his plans on fiscal stimulus, tax cuts and trade.

The Dow fell 72.32 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19,732.40. That’s slightly below where it finished in 2016, but not far from its record closing high of 19,974.62, set one month ago. Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 8.20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,263.69. The Nasdaq composite gave up 15.57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,540.08.

“Markets are now waiting for more evidence that Donald Trump will deliver on fiscal stimulus and deregulation but uncertainty remains high about what he will do on trade,” Shane Oliver of AMP Capital said in a commentary. “The risk of a tit-for-tat trade war between the U.S. and China is high, particularly if Trump formally brands China a currency manipulator.”

Shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen rose after the government said the economy grew at a 6.8- percent annual rate in the last quarter. Full year growth was 6.7 percent, the weakest in three decades as a potential trade battle with Trump looms.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 16 cents to $52.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 23 cents Thursday to close at $52.12. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 24 cents to $54.40 in London. It added 24 cents the previous session to $54.16.

The dollar fell to 114.72 yen from Thursday’s 114.80. The euro rose to $1.0678 from $1.0659.