By MarketWatch, MarketWatch , Associated Press
Asian stock markets finished mostly higher Friday after a mixed Wall Street close on listless trading.
Benchmarks in Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul rose. Shanghai and Hong Kong inched up after Chinese trade data.
China exports data rebounded strongly , though imports were weak. Elsewhere, data showed (https://uk.reuters.com/article/china-economy-loans/update-1-china-march-new-loans-rebound-sharply-more-policy-easing-expected-idUKL3N21Q1YT) new loans to Chinese banks rebounded.
Major U.S. stock indexes closed unevenly Thursday after losses in health care stocks mostly offset gains in industrial companies and banks. Major European indexes closed mostly higher.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index finished up 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite Index pared a 0.5% drop to close flat.
Electric-vehicle makers and stocks linked to the Shanghai free-trade zone rose, while consumer stocks continue to pull back in China. Moutai (600519.SH) fell 1.2%. Meanwhile, Visual China fell the 10% daily limit after shutting down its patent-exchange platform amid a government order to fix what it calls illegal patent practices that include the black-hole picture recently published.
Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.4% and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 0.8%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2% and India's Sensex gained 0.4%.
On Wall Street Thursday, the Standard & Poor's 500 added less than 0.1% to 2,888.32. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1%, to 26,143.05. The Nasdaq Composite slid 0.2%, to 7,947.36.
The U.S. market gave back some of the previous day's gains after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed the majority of officials want to keep interest rates unchanged. Investors want the central bank to take a more laid-back approach to avoid triggering a market slump.
Traders are focused on company earnings reports the next few weeks in hopes of gleaning fresh clues about the trajectory of the economy. Both U.S. stock futures and European stocks were higher on Friday, boosted by China data and upbeat U.S. bank earnings results.
Analysts expect companies in the S&P 500 to report a 3.3% drop in earnings per share from a year earlier, which would be the first decline since the spring of 2016. The expected drop in profits is due almost entirely to weaker profit margins.
Benchmark U.S. crude surged $1 to $64.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.03 on Thursday to close at $63.58. Brent crude , used to price international oils, added 86 cents to $71.709 per barrel in London. It fell 90 cents the previous session to $70.83.
The dollar rose to 111.95 yen from Thursday's 111.66 yen. The euro rose to $1.1320 from $1.1257.
This story was compiled from Dow Jones Newswire reports and the Associated Press.