By Associated Press and Marketwatch
Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Wednesday after a modestly high finish on Wall Street that extended the market’s gains into a fourth week.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -2.50% jumped 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -3.37% slipped 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -2.89% jumped 0.9% and Australia S&P ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -3.28% slipped 0.3%. Stocks rose in Taiwan , Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -2.54% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -4.04% .
Among individual stocks, Sumitomo Metal Mining /zigman2/quotes/205273301/delayed JP:5713 -3.91% and SoftBank Group /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 -4.01% rose in Tokyo trading, while tech companies Samsung /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 -2.50% and SK Hynix /zigman2/quotes/206420319/delayed KR:000660 -3.88% jumped in Seoul. Investment bank China International Capital /zigman2/quotes/204387468/delayed HK:3908 -5.27% surged in Hong Kong, along with China Life Insurance /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -2.67% and auto maker Geely /zigman2/quotes/200716015/delayed HK:175 -5.97% . Mining names such as Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -4.00% and BHP /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -4.40% advanced in Australia as gold prices rallied, while bank stocks fell.
Uncertainty over the costly trade conflict between the U.S. and China has clouded the outlook for trade as well as company profits. But stocks shook off an early wobble on Wall Street as solid earnings from Walmart /zigman2/quotes/207374728/composite WMT -2.97% encouraged investors to bid up other retailers and consumer goods companies. Communication services stocks and banks also contributed to the broad gains.
Roughly 81% of S&P 500 companies have reported results for the last three months of 2018, delivering earnings growth of 13.1% versus a year earlier, according to FactSet. First-quarter snapshots are expected to result in a 2.5% decline in earnings, however.
The benchmark S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -4.42% gained 0.1% to 2,779.76, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -4.42% was almost flat at 25,891.32. The Nasdaq composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -4.61% added 0.2% to 7,486.77.
Major European indexes finished mostly lower.
Investors are keeping a close eye on talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators in Washington that are aimed at ending a trade war between the world’s largest economies.
Data showed a 17% drop in Japan’s exports to China and 13% decline in exports to the rest of Asia including China helped dragged overall exports sharply lower. Japan’s imports fell 0.6%, leaving a deficit of 1.4 trillion yen ($12.8 billion), up 50% from a year earlier. The weak numbers suggest China’s slowdown and trade tensions with the United States are hurting demand.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.5813% rose to 110.79 yen from 110.63 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1345 from $1.1343.
U.S. benchmark crude gained 22 cents to $56.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 0.8 percent to settle at $56.45 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude , the standard for international oil prices, added 7 cents to $66.52 per barrel.