Asian shares mixed as markets yawn at Trump’s impeachment

Tokyo (AP) – Stocks were mixed in early trading in Asia on Friday after Wall Street posted more record highs, extending the market’s gains for the week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged 0.2% lower to 23,809.33, while the Kospi in Seoul was almost unchanged, at 2,196.45. The S&P ASX 200 in Sydney slipped 0.2% to 6,821.10. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.1% higher to 29,538.00.

Technology companies led stocks higher on Wall Street Thursday, extending the market’s gains for the week and pushing the major indexes to more record highs. Reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a trade deal with China was finished and ready for signing after the holidays also spurred buying.

“Indeed, agreement of the ‘Phase 1’ deal between the U.S. and China has removed quite a lot of uncertainties in the outlook for 2020, and with the global growth revival trade is looking better and better by the day, equity investors are reveling in the holiday cheer,” Stephen Innes of AxiTrader said in a commentary.

The broad gains on Wall Street erased the S&P 500’s slight losses from a day earlier. The benchmark index has notched gains six out of the past seven days.

A batch of encouraging earnings reports from several big companies helped keep investors in a buying mood. Rite Aid, Conagra Brands and Micron Technology rose after posting quarterly results that exceeded analysts’ forecasts.

Stock indexes were little changed for much of the day. Stocks, bonds, gold and a measure of fear among investors on Wall Street made only modest moves in the first day of trading after President Donald Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

“We’ve kind of known how this was going to play out for months,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments. “That just means that everybody has had an opinion, and whatever opinion that is it’s been priced into the market.”

The S&P 500 rose 14.23 points, or 0.4%, to 3,205.37. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 137.68 points, or 0.5%, to 28,376.96, a record.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.7% to 8,887.22, a record. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks added 0.3% to 1,667.09.

More stocks rose on the New York Stock Exchange than fell.

Treasury yields slipped. The 10-year Treasury yield dipped to 1.91% from 1.92% late Wednesday. The two-year yield was unchanged at 1.62% and the 30-year yield rose to 2.36% from 2.35%.

The major stock indexes climbed to record highs late last week as investors welcomed news that the U.S. and China had taken steps to de-escalate their trade conflict. Stocks have mostly continued their record-breaking run this week, shrugging off the House’s impeachment of President Trump.

Trump became just the third U.S. president to be impeached after the House voted Wednesday on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress in an investigation.

The President had warned months ago that his impeachment would roil markets, but traders say it has virtually no impact. That’s mostly because they see it as extremely unlikely that he or his market-friendly policies will leave office before the end of his term.

Trump, who has often reveled on Twitter when stock prices are rising, warned in October that “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market.”

A gauge measuring how worried traders are about upcoming swings for the S&P 500 rose only 0.6%.

Technology and communication services stocks accounted for much of the gains Thursday. Utilities and energy companies were the only decliners.

Investors had their eye on earnings reports from several companies.

Conagra Brands surged 15.9% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it reported stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than Wall Street forecast due in part to sales of frozen and snack foods.

Micron Technology rose 2.8% after it reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Its CEO also said it expects this quarter to mark “the cyclical bottom for our financial performance.”

Reports on the U.S. economy were mixed. Fewer workers applied for jobless benefits last week than the prior week, but the number was higher than economists forecast.

A report by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said that manufacturing activity was nearly flat in the region last month. The pace of sales of previously occupied homes also weakened last month, as more Americans get priced out of the rising housing market.

Benchmark crude oil lost 9 cents to $61.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 2 cents to $66.56 a barrel.

The dollar was almost unchanged at 109.36 Japanese yen from 109.35 yen on Thursday. The euro also inched higher, to $1.1123 from $1.1122.



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