A bank employee walks past a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea. – AP
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Asian stock markets were drifting lower yesterday as investors awaited further moves in global trade disputes.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.1 per cent to 22,764.68 while South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3 per cent to 2,282.29.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.3 per cent lower to 28,037.78 while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.5 per cent to 2,772.55. Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.3 per cent to 6,262.70.
Shares rose in Singapore and Indonesia but fell in the Philippines.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell wrapped up his semi-annual testimony to Congress about economic and monetary policy with an overall positive assessment.
However, he warned that trade battles with China and higher United States (US) tariffs on foreign products cause higher inflation that might require a change of strategy.
“The tone is little changed from yesterday with earnings and the Fed relief carrying markets higher and providing positive leads for us here in Asia.
“That said, markets lack real conviction amid the waffling sentiment,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.
US stock indexes finished slightly higher on Wednesday. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2 per cent to 2,815.62.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3 per cent to 25,199.29. The Nasdaq composite finished nearly flat, losing 0.67 points to close at 7,854.44.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.3 per cent to 1,691.87.
Benchmark US crude lost 25 cents to USD68.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
On Wednesday, the contract rose one per cent to finish at USD68.76 a barrel in New York.
Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 48 cents to USD72.42 per barrel in London.
It added one per cent to settle at USD72.90 a barrel on Wednesday.
The dollar rose to 112.94 yen from 112.85 yen. The euro weakened to USD1.1614 from USD1.1638.
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