Asian markets muted as investors assess China data, Fed pick

A man walks past an electronic stock board showing the Hang Seng Index at a bank in Hong Kong, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Asian stocks were drifting Friday in holiday-thinned trading as investors digested news about the Fed's next chief and a U.S. tax cut plan. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Friday in holiday-thinned trading as investors digested uninspiring Chinese economic data, Donald Trump’s pick for next Fed chief and a U.S. tax cut plan.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index rose 0.3 percent to 28,607.12 while the Shanghai Composite in mainland China lost 0.8 percent to 3,356.7. South Korea’s Kospi was practically unchanged at 2,547.02 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.5 percent to 5,959.90. Southeast Asian benchmarks were mixed and Taiwan’s index rose. Japan’s markets were closed for a holiday.

CHINA DATA: The country’s service sector showed lackluster expansion last month, according to the latest Caixin purchasing managers’ index, which rose from a 21-month low but remained weaker than average. Caixin’s composite index covering both services and manufacturing fell to its lowest since July 2016. The figures add to concerns about slowing growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.

FED CHIEF: President Donald Trump chose Fed Governor Jerome “Jay” Powell to lead the Federal Reserve after current Chair Janet Yellen’s term ends in February. Powell, a policymaker at the U.S. central bank since 2012, is expected to follow Yellen’s cautious approach to raising interest rates. His selection wasn’t a surprise for Wall Street, which had him as the front-runner.

TAX PLAN: Markets are assessing the $1.5 trillion tax cut plan unveiled by U.S. House Republicans. Under the plan, corporate rates will be cut, personal rates for most Americans will be lowered and some prized deductions will be reduced or eliminated. Attention was also turning to the latest U.S. payroll and unemployment data due out later in the day and its implications for the Fed’s interest rate policy.

QUOTEWORTHY: “Currency and stock markets have adopted a largely ‘wait and see response’ both to news that Jerome Powell will be nominated as Fed Chair and to the release of US tax reform proposals,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “The announcements were largely as expected and the impact of both will depend on further developments.”

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks had a mixed finish. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up less than 0.1 percent to close at 2,579.85 and the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.3 percent to a record 23,516.26. The Nasdaq composite crept less than 0.1 percent lower to 6,714.94.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 113.98 yen from 114.08 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro edged higher to $1.1663 from $1.1659.

ENERGY: Oil futures extended gains. U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 23 cents to $54.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 24 cents to settle at $54.54 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, picked up 17 cents to $60.79 a barrel in London. 

By KELVIN CHAN, AP Business Writer