Asian Stocks Climb as Techs Lift Wall St., Italy Still a Worry

Chinese investors monitor stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Wednesday ahead of a meeting of major industrialized economies overshadowed by tension over U.S. steel tariffs.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 31,234.46 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 31,234.46. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 6,019.40 while India’s Sensex was up 0.4 percent at 35,049.89. The Shanghai Composite index edged down 3 points to 3,112.33. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday. Benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand, Singapore and Indonesia also rose.

U.S. stocks mostly rose, helped by gains for technology companies and retailers as up-and-down trading related to trade tensions gave way to smaller moves. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.2 percent to 2,748.80 while the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.1 percent to 24,799.98. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent. Smaller retailers did especially well following strong first-quarter results. Amazon and Macy’s also rose.

Leaders of the Group of Seven meet Friday amid criticism that President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes on steel and aluminum will undermine trade and weaken confidence in the global economy. Finance ministers of the other six governments expressed “concern and disappointment” over Trump’s moves in a statement last weekend. Allies including Canada and the European Union are threatening retaliatory tariffs.

“Between the geopolitical cloud that looms and the sustained growth momentum, global equity markets trudged on in a tepid pace,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. Pan noted “renewed confidence” in information technology and forecasts of double-digit second quarter earnings growth. “The focus lies ahead with the bout of geopolitical development that could unfold with the G7 meeting amid a light midweek.”

Italy’s new government won the first of two confidence votes needed to take power after its leader denounced Europe’s immigration policy and warned his Cabinet would renegotiate Italy’s fiscal obligations to help struggling Italians. Financial markets are uneasy the 5-Star-League alliance’s promises of higher welfare spending and other changes will increase Italy’s debt burden. In his inaugural policy address, Premier Giuseppe Conte said Italy was committed to reducing its public debt but won’t do so through austerity measures.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 29 cents to $65.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 77 cents on Tuesday to close at $65.52. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 27 cents to $75.65 per barrel in London. The contract was 6 cents higher the previous session to close at $75.38.

The dollar gained to 109.86 yen from Tuesday’s 109.79 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1722 from $1.1715.