By Marketwatch and Associated Press
Nikkei, Hang Seng edge up as stocks in mainland China dip
Asian markets mostly gained in early trading Wednesday, ahead of expected further monetary easing by the European Central Bank.
The ECB is expected to take rates even deeper into negative territory at its Thursday meeting. Policy makers have indicated the ECB could introduce a tiered system of deposits, which would see only a portion of deposits subject to negative rates, which could ease a further hit to the banking sector's profitability.
Investors may also have been encouraged by a lack of bad news on the trade-war front.
"The U.S.-China tug of war will continue, but there is growing sense that U.S.-China sentiment may be shifting to a state of trade-war neutrality," said Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader. Innes also noted the ouster of U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton may be good for global markets. "From a geopolitical risk perspective, it does lessen war-risk premiums, especially in Syria, Venezuela and Iran, and opens the door to more friendly discussion with North Korea," he said.
Japan's Nikkei rose 0.9% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 1.4%. The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1% and the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite fell 0.2%. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8% as the government said it would file a WTO complaint over Japan's trade curbs against it. Singapore's Straits Times Index advanced, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan and Indonesia were about flat and stocks dipped in Malaysia . Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1%.
Among individual stocks, Sony gained in Tokyo trading, along with Honda and oil producer Inpex , while Nintendo fell after Apple announced pricing for its videogame subscription service (https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-wants-gamers-to-hit-subscribe-with-apple-arcade-11568153508). In Hong Kong, HSBC and New World Development rose while CSPC Pharmaceutical fell. SK Hynix (000660.SE) declined in South Korea while Apple component maker Largan Precision surged in Taiwan after new iPhones were announced . Rio Tinto and Westpac gained in Australia.
On Wall Street, investors continued to flock to smaller-company stocks they see as being better shielded from the fallout of the costly trade war between the U.S. and China than large multinationals.
The S&P 500 index inched up 0.96 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,979.39. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 73.92 points, or 0.3%, to 26,909.43. The average was briefly down 118 points. The Nasdaq , which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, slid 3.28 points, or less than 0.1%, to 8,084.16.
The U.S. market has been gaining ground for two weeks as investors remain confident in the strength of the economy, despite the lingering trade war between the U.S. and China.
The feud between the world's two largest economies has been injecting doses of volatility into the market as both sides escalate and then pull back. Recent plans for trade talks to resume in October raised some hope on Wall Street for a resolution.
Meanwhile, investors continue to watch the steady flow of economic data for a clearer picture of the U.S. economy's health. Recent reports have been a mixed bag, including a Labor Department report Tuesday that showed both a slip in job openings as well as a slight increase in hiring in July.
The Labor Department will report the latest consumer price index figures on Thursday and the Commerce Department will report August retail sales data on Friday. Economists continue to expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates at its meeting next week to help maintain U.S. economic growth.
Benchmark crude oil rose 40 cents to $57.80. It fell 45 cents to $57.40 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude oil , the international standard, gained 33 cents to $62.71 a barrel.
The dollar rose to 107.54 Japanese yen from 107.39 yen on Tuesday.