Asian shares slightly higher amid geopolitical tensions

Asian shares slightly higher amid geopolitical tensions
The Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher but little changed Tuesday, as global investors were relieved to see that the attack on Syria likely won’t escalate but worries remained about U.S.-China trade tensions.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 erased initial gains to be virtually unchanged, up less than 0.1 percent at 21,837.39 in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent to 5,860.00. South Korea’s Kospi was little changed at 2,455.87, erasing initial gains. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.1 percent at 30,349.97, while the Shanghai Composite edged up less than 0.1 percent at 3,111.73.

CHINA FACTOR: China’s economic growth held steady in the quarter ending in March, buoyed by investment and rapid growth in e-commerce despite trade tensions with Washington. The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.8 percent over a year earlier, in line with the quarter ending in December and down slightly from 2017’s full-year expansion of 6.9 percent, data showed Tuesday.

GEOPOLITICAL FACTOR: Investors are starting to put aside concerns over the geopolitical tensions that led to Friday night’s missile attack by the U.S., Britain and France on Syria’s chemical weapons program. On Monday, the White House said it was considering imposing additional sanctions on Russia, a key ally of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index rose 21.54 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,677.84. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 212.90 points, or 0.9 percent, to 24,573.04. The Nasdaq added 49.63 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,156.28. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 13.52 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,563.03.

THE QUOTE: “Concerns on situation in Syria have eased as market saw U.S.-led air strikes largely as a one-off event rather than an ongoing crisis,” said Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank in Singapore. “While there have been tentative evidences of de-escalation of trade tension, there are still lingering risks beneath the surface.”

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 35 cents to $66.57 a barrel. It declined $1.17 to settle at $66.22 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 27 cents to $71.69 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.05 yen from 107.21 yen late Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.2380 from $1.2366.


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