Asian Shares Mixed As Trump Signs Hong Kong Rights Act
Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump signed two U.S. bills supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, defying calls from China to block the legislation. Trump’s approval of the legislation has dampened the prospects for an interim trade deal.
Chinese stocks ended lower amid fresh worries between the U.S. and Beijing over Hong Kong. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.47 percent to 2,889.69 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged down 0.22 percent to 26,893.73.
Japanese shares ended lower to snap a four-day winning streak after Trump signed into law congressional legislation backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Weak Japanese retail sales data for October also dented sentiment.
Retail sales in Japan plunged a seasonally adjusted 14.4 percent month on month in October, missing expectations for a decline of 10.4 percent following the 7.2 percent increase in September.
On a yearly basis, retail sales sank 7.1 percent – also missing forecasts for a drop of 3.8 percent following the 9.2 percent jump in the previous month.
The Nikkei average slipped 0.12 percent to 23,409.14 while the broader Topix index closed 0.17 percent lower at 1,708.06.
Apple supplier Japan Display slumped 4.2 percent after the company said it would review its past accountings records.
Panasonic Corp. rallied 2.8 percent on a Nikkei report that will sell its loss-making semiconductor business to Taiwan’s Nuvoton Technology.
Australian markets pared early gains to end modestly higher in thin trade ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 13.40 points, or 0.20 percent, to 6,864 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 15 points, or 0.22 percent, at 6,965.60.
A drop in treasury yields propped up healthcare stocks, with CSL and Cochlear gaining around 1 percent. Tech shares such as Afterpay Touch Group and Wisetech Global also rose around 1 percent each.
Gold miner Evolution Mining tumbled 3.4 percent on profit taking after climbing 5.1 percent the previous day.
Westpac Banking Corp edged down slightly after the bank said it would refund investors who bought new shares prior to the money laundering allegations made by financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC.
In economic news, private capital expenditure in Australia fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent sequentially in the third quarter of 2019, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. That missed expectations for a flat reading following the 0.6 percent drop in the three months prior.
Separately, S&P Global Ratings said that the Australia’s AAA sovereign rating would be at risk if the government opted to deploy fiscal stimulus.
“If this fiscal stimulus involves substantial spending initiatives and changes the trajectory of the budget, then doing so could increase downward pressure on our rating and outlook for Australia,” S&P credit analyst Anthony Walker said.
Seoul stocks fell on concerns that a new U.S. law calling for support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong could undermine negotiations on a trade deal. The Kospi average dropped 9.25 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,118.60. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics declined 1.7 percent.
New Zealand shares rose notably, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ending up 86.48 points, or 0.78 percent, at 11,207.29. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp gained 1.9 percent.
New Zealand business confidence reached its strongest level this year in November but firms still expect general business conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead, business outlook survey data from ANZ showed.
The headline business sentiment index surged 16 points to a net 26 percent in November. Likewise, firms’ expectations for their own activity rose 17 points to +13. This was also the strongest level in 2019.
U.S. stocks for a fourth straight session to reach fresh record closing highs overnight after President Trump said trade talks are “going very well.”
Upbeat durable goods orders and GDP data also underpinned sentiment ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent.
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