By Daniel Inman
Asian stocks were mostly lower Wednesday, as renewed concerns over U.S. military intervention in Syria weighed on regional sentiment.
U.S. lawmakers back Obama's push on Syria
Top lawmakers from both parties said they will support action against Syria to deter the use of chemical weapons. WSJ's Jared Favole joins the News Hub. Photo: AP.
Although Wall Street gave a positive lead to Asia, reopening on Tuesday after the Labor Day public holiday, regional stocks retreated after the possibility of U.S. strike in Syria returned to the fore. U.S. indexes gave up much of their earlier gains on Tuesday.
“Uncertainty stemming from particularly complex geopolitical events is never a good thing for markets,” said Tim Radford, global analyst at Rivkin.
House Speaker John Boehner said that he supports President Barack Obama’s call for military action in Syria.
In addition, the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached an agreement on a resolution authorizing limited military strikes against Syria. The resolution is expected to be put to a vote of the full committee Wednesday and could reach the full Senate for a vote as early as next week.
Chinese stocks pulled back after positive manufacturing data from both China and Europe lifted Hong Kong-listed Chinese companies more than a total of 4% Monday and Tuesday.
The Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.47% fell 0.3% to 22326.22 and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was 0.2% lower at 10233.03.
The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.04% , however, managed a 0.2% gain to 2127.62.
China Construction Bank Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 +1.72% stock was in focus in Hong Kong, down 1.4% after Bank of America Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200894270/composite BAC +0.72% sold its remaining holdings in the lender for $1.5 billion — the latest in a U.S. banking retreat from China’s financial system.
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.23% recouped early losses as the yen maintained its recent weakness, ending the day 0.5% higher at 14053.87. The U.S. dollar traded at ¥99.62 late in Asia, compared with ¥99.57 late Tuesday in New York.
Shipping companies outperformed in Tokyo, driven by a slew of recent upbeat manufacturing data from around the globe. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha gained 3.1% and Mitsui OSK Lines rose 2.1%.
Investors were also reacting to a range of company news in Tokyo. Canon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 -1.40% /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ -2.49% jumped 3.8% after the company said it will buy back up to 18 million of its own shares, representing 1.6% of its outstanding shares. The company will spend up to ¥50 billion ($502 million) on the buyback.
Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +1.61% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -0.97% rose 0.6% after a Nikkei report said it likely increased its annual dividend for the year ending March on expectations of strong earnings.
In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.74% dropped 0.7% to 5161.60 as cyclical stocks including banks and resource companies struggled as worries about the situation in Syria triggered risk aversion. Westpac Banking Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +0.12% /zigman2/quotes/210300378/delayed WEBNF +0.58% lost 1%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA +0.08% /zigman2/quotes/207018701/delayed CBAUF +0.15% fell 0.4% and BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -2.17% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -3.77% fell 0.8%.
The Australian dollar /zigman2/quotes/210560947/realtime/sampled AUDUSD -0.6864% received a boost after the country’s economy expanded in the second quarter. The economy grew at an annualized 2.6%, meeting expectations of economists and pushing the Australian dollar up to 91.42 cents late in Asia from 90.38 cents late Tuesday.