Wall Street wobble, weak dollar pull Asian shares lower
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly lower after stocks wobbled on Wall Street. A dip in the dollar’s value against other currencies hit regional exporters’ shares, as did talk of a more nationalist U.S. trade policy by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The dollar sagged against other currencies after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the currency’s decline is good for U.S. exporters, suggesting he isn’t likely to try to stop its slide.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 0.9 percent to 23,723.60 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3 percent to 3,548.93. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 32,916.51. South Korea’s Kospi surged 0.9 percent to 2,559.86 while the S&P/ ASX 200 in Australia fell 0.2 percent to 6,042.60. Shares rose in Taiwan and Thailand but fell inSingapore and Indonesia.
DAVOS FACTOR: Mnuchin and Ross were at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A weaker dollar can help exports from the U.S., but it take a toll on consumers and on smaller, more domestic companies by driving up costs of imported components. It’s not good news for Asian exporters. Ross said the U.S. is fighting back against countries that have taken advantage of trade deals in the past. “Trade wars are fought every single day,” he said. “Unfortunately, every single day there are various parties trying to violate the rules, and trying to take unfair advantage of things ... the difference is that U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”
ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “The overnight focus had all been on the U.S. dollar with another jab sending the currency weaker against major currencies,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. “Meanwhile, concern over trade and protectionism is currently the new flavor of the month, adding a tinge of cautiousness in the latest equity surge.”
WALL STREET: Stocks got off to a strong start, but technology companies took heavier losses as the day wore on, led by chipmakers after Texas Instruments gave a disappointing forecast for the current quarter. Apple also fell. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 0.1 percent to 2,837.54. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent to 26,252.12 after seesawing throughout the day. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.6 percent to 7,415.06 while the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks skidded 0.7 percent, to 1,599.61.
CURRENCIES: The dollar dropped to 109.14 yen from 109.22 yen late Wednesday. The euro advanced to $1.2421 from $1.2411. The ICE US dollar index fell almost 10 percent in 2017 and is down 3 percent so far this year.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 53 cents to $66.14 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.14, or 1.8 percent, to $65.61 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 41 cents to $70.94 per barrel. It added 57 cents to $70.53 a barrel in London.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this story from New York and AP reporters Jamey Keaten and Pan Pylas contributed to this story from Davos, Switzerland.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jayt