HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares were mixed in holiday-thinned trading on Wednesday as investors brushed off Wall Street’s latest advance into record territory.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index gave up early gains, slipping 0.1 percent to 20,598.39 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.7 percent to 28,370.43.
Both indexes were at two-year highs. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.9 percent to 5,652.10 and Southeast Asian indexes were mixed. Stock markets were closed in mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan for holidays.
LOOKING FOR LEADS: With some key Asian markets closed, investors had little basis for their trading and were looking at fresh leads elsewhere. Sentiment was lifted by U.S. auto sales data showing the first monthly sales gain for the year in September as drivers replaced cars destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Markets were awaiting more U.S. data later in the day, including the monthly private ADP payroll report and the ISM non-manufacturing index. The figures will provide the latest insights into the world’s biggest economy, which could factor into the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates again by the end of the year.
FED: Investors were also awaiting a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen as speculation swirls about who President Donald Trump will tap to lead the U.S. central bank when her term ends early next year. The uncertainty has left the dollar in limbo. White House officials said last week Trump has met with former Fed board member Kevin Warsh, and current member Jerome Powell. But Trump has said he could re-nominate Yellen.
QUOTEWORTHY: “The focus may also be brought to the next Fed chair with Fed’s Yellen’s speech,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore. “Although the names on the list may be of little surprise to the market, the conversation is expected to further heat up on this development.”
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks pushed higher to end in record territory. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,534.58 for its sixth straight day of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent to 22,641.67, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2 percent to 6,531.71.
ENERGY: Oil futures fell further. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 32 cents to $50.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dipped 16 cents to settle at $50.42 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, fell 26 cents to $55.74 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 112.56 Japanese yen from 112.86 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1766 from $1.1745. •
By KELVIN CHAN, AP Business Writer