Asian stocks fall as traders mull Trump inquiry

Asian stocks fell Friday as traders weighed data showing slower U.S. economic growth and the possible impact of an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

The congressional inquiry into Trump is throwing more volatility into a market that already was nervous over U.S.-Chinese trade tension.

“The impeachment of Trump will now become a drawn-out saga that feels like annoying supermarket music,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

Also Thursday, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy grew at a modest 2% in the second quarter, sharply lower than the past year’s 3%-plus growth rates.

The Shanghai Composite Index was off 1 point at 2,928.97 on the final day of trading before Chinese markets close for a weeklong holiday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.4% to 21,744.87 ahead of an Oct. 1 hike in Japan’s sales tax to 10% from 8%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.3% to 25,963.28 and Seoul’s Kospi dropped 1.3% to 2,046.51.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 6,704.80 and India’s Sensex gave up 0.1% to 38,935.50. Markets in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia retreated.

Traders were encouraged by a Chinese Commerce Ministry announcement that importers had agreed to buy U.S. soybeans as the two sides make conciliatory gestures ahead of trade talks. That followed an earlier decision to list punitive tariffs on soybeans, the biggest Chinese import from the United States.

Plans to go ahead with negotiations next month have helped to ease market jitters, but there has been no sign of progress toward resolving the bruising tariff war over trade and technology.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.2% to 2,977.62 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.3% to 26,891.12. The Nasdaq dropped 0.6% to 8,030.66.

While many analysts say the Trump probe isn’t likely to affect the market significantly, it does add a degree of uncertainty and could complicate the White House’s efforts to resolve trade disputes with China and other nations.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 32 cents to $56.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gave up 8 cents to $56.41 on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 59 cents to $61.15 per barrel in London. It retreated 31 cents the previous session to $61.74.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.72 yen from Thursday’s 107.83 yen. The euro rose to $1.0925 from $1.0920.

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