By Marketwatch and Associated Press
Asian markets were mixed in modest trading Friday, as investors sought direction amid a rare quiet news day on the geopolitical front.
Speaking in Washington on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence expressed hope for a phase-one trade deal, and said the U.S. “will continue to negotiate in good faith with China.” Pence pointed out that China was a “strategic and economic rival,” though, and sharply criticized its actions to curb civil rights in Hong Kong and mainland China. There were no other major trade developments.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would seek a general election in December to break the Brexit deadlock, but it’s uncertain if he can win Parliament’s support for the vote.
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.73% gave up early gains after Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara resigned after just a month on the job. Sugawara has been grilled in Parliament recently concerning a scandal over condolence money allegedly being offered to election supporters.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.10% fell 0.4%, while the Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.15% slipped 0.2% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598015/delayed CN:399106 -0.09% rose slightly. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.24% was about flat, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 +0.56% , Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -2.17% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -0.06% were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +2.16% gained 0.6%.
Among individual stocks, SoftBank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 0.00% fell in Tokyo trading, as did convenience-store chain FamilyMart /zigman2/quotes/207640090/delayed JP:8028 +2.43% , while Screen Holdings /zigman2/quotes/200599327/delayed JP:7735 -0.39% gained. In Hong Kong, CSPC Pharmaceutical /zigman2/quotes/200847219/delayed HK:1093 +1.18% rose, along with CNOOC /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 +1.16% , while AAC /zigman2/quotes/201441510/delayed HK:2018 +3.64% and Ping An Insurance /zigman2/quotes/210315058/delayed HK:2318 -0.59% declined. LG Electronics /zigman2/quotes/209966407/delayed KR:066570 -0.36% fell in South Korea while SK Hynix /zigman2/quotes/206420319/delayed KR:000660 +0.12% surged. Retailer Woolworths /zigman2/quotes/209906204/delayed AU:WOW +1.14% gained in Australia.
Traders have braced for weaker results this earnings season amid concerns about the costly trade war between the U.S. and China, and increased signs of slowing economic growth worldwide. Earnings reports in the last couple of weeks have mostly exceeded Wall Street analysts’ modest expectations.
After moving sideways for much of the day, the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.24% added 5.77 points, or 0.2%, to 3,010.29. The index is now within 0.6% of its all-time high set July 26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.04% dropped 28.42 points, or 0.1%, to 26,805.53. The Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.43% , which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 66 points, or 0.8%, to 8,185.80.
“The past week saw most major share markets push higher helped by generally good U.S. earnings reports, benign geopolitical news and optimism that global recession will be avoided,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital.
Benchmark crude oil dipped 35 cents to $55.88 a barrel. It rose 26 cents to $56.23 a barrel Thursday. Brent crude oil , the international standard, lost 37 cents to $61.30 a barrel.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.0186% was little changed, including up to 108.65 Japanese yen from 108.64 yen on Thursday.