By Marketwatch and Associated Press
Asian markets had a mixed session Thursday, following record closing highs for U.S. stocks in a shortened trading day.
The rally follows a slight easing of trade tensions between the U.S. and China after they agreed to refrain from new tariffs pending a new round of negotiations. That has relieved some pressure on markets, though the trade war still overshadows the global economic outlook.
Japan’s Nikkei (NIKKEI:JP:NIK) closed up near 0.3%, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI) gave up early gains and ended down 0.2%. After starting the trading day flat, the Shanghai Composite (SHG:CN:SHCOMP) slipped 0.3% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite (SHENHZEN:CN:399106) fell 0.5%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOREA:KR:180721) erased early losses and rose 0.6%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan (TAIWAN:TW:Y9999) , Singapore (SES:SG:STI) and Indonesia (INDONESIA:ID:JAKIDX) saw modest gains. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO) rose 0.5%.
Among individual stocks, SoftBank (TKS:JP:9984) gained in Tokyo trading, as did Inpex (TKS:JP:1605) , while Fast Retailing (TKS:JP:9983) declined. In Hong Kong, Sino Biopharmaceutical (HKG:HK:1177) and Galaxy Entertainment (HKG:HK:27) rose, while AAC (HKG:HK:2018) and Sunny Optical (HKG:HK:2382) fell. Samsung (KRX:KR:005930) inched up in South Korea, as did Taiwan Semiconductor (TAI:TW:2330) in Taiwan. Westpac (ASX:AU:WBC) and National Australia Bank (ASX:AU:NAB) gained in Australia.
Investors cheered signs that global monetary policy will become more stimulative in the months ahead, after International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde was nominated to replace Mario Draghi as the head of the European Central Bank.
Also, President Donald Trump said he would nominate Christopher Waller, the research director at the St. Louis Fed, and Judy Shelton, the U.S. executive director for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, for influential posts on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Shelton has backed interest-rate cuts, and Waller is an easy-money advocate.
On the trade-war front, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Wednesday that high-level U.S. and Chinese negotiators would talk on the phone next week to set up a new round of face-to-face meetings.
“Clearly the trade truce with China has been a catalyst for the market even though there remain uncertainties,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.
Technology companies, which tend to do a lot of business with China, have been particularly sensitive to the trade war between the U.S. and China. The sector has been broadly higher this week.
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) rose 179.32 points, or 0.7%, at 26,966, it’s first record close since Oct. 3, while the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX) set its third-straight record close, rising 22.81 points, or 0.8% to 2,995.82. The Nasdaq Composite index (NASDAQ:COMP) ended the day at an all-time high of 8,170.23, adding 61.14 points , or 0.8%. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Independence Day.
Every sector in the S&P 500 made gains, and the records are adding up to a yearlong rally. The S&P 500 is up more than 19% so far, while the Dow is up more than 15%. The Nasdaq is now up 23% for the year.
Investors will be watching for the U.S. government’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday. The results of that report will likely be a factor in the Federal Reserve’s meeting later this month. The central bank has already said it is prepared to cut rates to shore up the U.S. economy if trade disputes crimp growth.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.949% from 1.97% Tuesday.
In commodities trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 25 cents to $57.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.09 on Wednesday to settle at $57.34 a barrel. Brent crude , the international standard, gave up 2 cents to $63.80 per barrel. It rose $1.42 overnight to close at $63.82 a barrel.
The dollar (XTUP:USDJPY) slipped to 107.76 Japanese yen from 107.83 yen on Wednesday.