Asian markets erase earlier gains in muted Easter trading

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Asian markets erase earlier gains in muted Easter trading
People look at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, April 2, 2018. Asian markets are mostly higher in muted trading as Hong Kong and Australian markets are closed for Easter, and Wall Street and other global markets have been closed for a long weekend after Good Friday. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian markets mostly fell Monday, erasing earlier gains in muted trading, as Hong Kong and Australian markets were closed for Easter, and Wall Street and other global markets have been closed for a long weekend after Good Friday.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 percent to close at 21,388.58, while South Korea’s Kospi was down less than 0.1 percent at 2,444.06. The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.1 percent to 3,165.74. Indexes in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

WALL STREET: New York trading was off for a long weekend for Good Friday, and will resume later Monday.

TRADE FEARS: Fears are simmering that President Donald Trump’s tariff programs could set off a trade war. China raised import duties on U.S. pork, fruit and other products Monday in response to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum. A bigger dispute looms over Trump’s approval of possible higher duties on nearly billion of Chinese goods.

JAPAN ECONOMY: A quarterly business outlook survey by Japan’s central bank shows corporate sentiment has worsened for the first time in two years. The Bank of Japan’s “tankan” index for large manufacturers was 24 in March, down two points from December.

THE QUOTE: “The market’s biggest fears about escalating trade war and higher U.S. interest rates have tentatively blown over, suggesting investors will shift into bargain-hunting mode,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading at Oanda.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 24 cents to .18 a barrel. Trading had stopped for the long Easter weekend. On Thursday, benchmark U.S. crude rose 56 cents to .94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 36 cents to .70 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 106.34 yen from 106.23 late Friday. The euro inched down to .2313 from .2329.

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