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Asian stocks retreat following Wall Street losses

/ 12:44 PM December 13, 2016
Japan Financial Markets

Men walk past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday as a seven-day rally on Wall Street petered out overnight. The U.S. dollar retreated slightly after hitting a 13-year high and oil prices slipped. AP

BEIJING — Asian stocks were lower Tuesday following Wall Street’s declines while oil prices eased after two days of strong gains.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 percent to 3,128.48 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.1 percent to 19,125.57. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent to 22,392.29 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was unchanged. Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 2,029.16 and Taiwan also advanced. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Southeast Asia declined.

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WALL STREET: Stocks pulled back following a record run, though a spurt in oil prices Monday helped push energy issues higher. Nine stocks fell on the New York Stock Exchange for every five that rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 has climbed 5.4 percent since the presidential election on expectations proposed tax cuts will lead to higher profits. The rise in energy stocks including Exxon Mobil and Chevron propelled the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.2 percent to a record 19,796.43. The S&P, a broader market benchmark, 0.1 percent, to 2,256.96. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.6 percent to 5,412.54.

FED WATCH: Investors almost universally expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to hike interest rates when it ends a policy meeting Wednesday. It would be only the second rise in a decade. The Fed has kept rates near zero since the 2008 global crisis but its leaders have indicated the U.S. economy is improving enough to start moving gradually toward normal policy. Low interest rates have helped to boost stock prices but are hurting savers who look for income from bank accounts and bonds.

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ANALYST’S TAKE: “For Asia, things have perhaps been a little less optimistic,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. Pan cited uncertainty over China’s monthly data and U.S.-Chinese tensions over Taiwan and Beijing’s filing of a World Trade Organization complaint against the United States and Europe Union for failing to treat it as a market economy. “As each other’s largest trading partner, the impact of a deteriorating relationship will be significant on both ends, commanding due concerns from the markets,” Pan said.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 18 cents to $52.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $1.33 on Monday to $52.83 following last week’s decision by major oil producers to cut output. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 10 cents to $55.59 in London. It jumped $1.36 on Monday.

CHINA: Economic data for November showed relatively strong activity. Industrial production grew 6.2 percent from a year ago, up from October’s 6.1 percent. Growth in investment in real estate and other fixed assets held steady at 8.8 percent, though growth in private sector investment declined to 4.6 percent from October’s 5.1 percent. “Another set of broadly positive data suggest that China is on track to end this year on a strong note,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

CHINA’S TUMBLE: Chinese stocks have declined amid concern about tighter regulation, Fed action and U.S.-Chinese tensions. The Shanghai benchmark fell Monday by an unusually wide margin of 2.5 percent. Analysts blame unease after Chinese regulators visited insurance companies, which are major traders, and banned one from further investing in stocks. Analysts suggested investors also are waiting to see the Fed’s decision on whether to raise U.S. rates.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 115.15 yen from Monday’s 114.90 yen. The euro eased to $1.0632 from $1.0641. TVJ

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