Asian Markets Mixed as U.S. Health Bill Delay Raises Doubts

HONG KONG (AP) -
A man rides a bicycle past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday,. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Asian stock markets are mixed Friday after a U.S. vote on a healthcare bill was delayed, raising doubts among investors over whether President Donald Trump can push through his business-friendly agenda.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent to 19,265.00 as buying picked up following recent losses. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1 percent to 2,168.06 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.2 percent to 24,271.40. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China crept up 0.1 percent to 3,252.31. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.8 percent to 5,753.50. Taiwan’s index fell and Southeast Asian benchmarks were uneven.

The decision by House Republicans to put off the vote was weighing on markets. Party leaders postponed the vote on the American Health Care Act because of a lack of support, leading investors to wonder whether gaining passage of more complicated and divisive initiatives like Trump’s tax cuts will be even harder. The vote will happen later Friday after Asian markets have closed.

“Markets are likely to remain on hold today as traders wait on the U.S. Congress to resolve its impasse on revision of the ‘Obamacare’ legislation,” Ric Spooner of CMC Markets, said in a commentary, adding, “optimism may be tempered by the fact that the Senate remains a significant obstacle to President Trump’s healthcare legislation even it is passed by Congress.”

Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.1 percent to 2,345.96. The Dow was steady at 20,656.58. The Nasdaq composite edged 0.1 percent lower to 5,817.69. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, gained 0.6 percent to 1,353.43.

U.S. crude oil futures rose 20 cents to $47.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 34 cents to settle at $47.70 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 15 cents to $50.81 a barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 111.46 yen from 110.93 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro slid to $1.0767 from $1.0783.