MITO, Japan —
Shares were mixed in Asia on Thursday, as flaring tensions between the U.S. and China added to uncertainties overhanging regional markets.
Benchmarks rose in Hong Kong and Sydney but fell in Shanghai, Seoul and Taiwan. Asia’s biggest market, Tokyo, was closed for a four-day weekend.
The Kospi in Seoul lost 0.9% to 2,209.02 after South Korea reported that its economy contracted 3.3% in April-June after shrinking 1.3% in the first quarter. In annual terms, the economy contracted at a 2.9% pace.
Exports fell 16.6% as demand was hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, the central bank reported in a statement on its website.
India’s Sensex picked up 0.1% to 37,935.75. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2% to 6,085.90, even after Josh Frydenberg, the treasurer, said data showed the economy contracted 7% in the last quarter.
“Our economy has taken a big hit and there are many challenges we confront,” he said.
It was unclear if the latest flare-up in tensions between Washington and Beijing was swaying investors in Asia, where Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.3% to 25,139.69.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index gave up early modest gains, falling 1.2% to 3,293.54.
Further roiling already fractious relations between the two biggest economies, the U.S. has ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, saying it was necessary to protect American intellectual property. China said it would retaliate.
Antagonisms are bound to heat up as presidential contender Joe Biden and President Donald Trump ramp up their campaigning, analysts said.
“In the main, the escalation in U.S.-China tensions is a reminder of the headline risk faced by investors during the upcoming U.S. election campaign,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange added companies from its new technology board to the Shanghai Composite Index on Wednesday in the index’s first major change in three decades.
To help better reflect business performance, companies that receive financial warnings will be removed from the index, the exchange said. The waiting period for adding newly traded stocks will be extended from as little as a few days to as much as one year.
Overnight, the S&P 500 picked up 0.6% to 3,276.02, its fourth session of advances, wavering between gains and losses as investors sized up a mix of company earnings reports. The Dow Junes Industrial Average also gained 0.6%, to 27,005.84.
Strength in technology and health care stocks outweighed losses in energy companies, banks and elsewhere in the market. Treasury yields fell slightly, a sign of caution in the market.
The Nasdaq recovered from an early dip to add 0.2% to 10,706.13, while the Russell 2000 index of small company stocks picked up 0.2%, to 1,490.14.
“Having come off a furious rally off the March 23 lows, the market is clearly in a period of consolidation and assessing second-quarter earnings results,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
So far, earnings have been coming in moderately better than expected, though companies have worked to lower expectations.
The S&P 500 is within 3.3% of the all-time high it set in February.
Homebuilders marched broadly higher after the National Association of Realtors said sales of previously occupied U.S. homes climbed last month by a robust 20.7%.
Discord between Republicans and Democrats over more financial aid to Americans and U.S. businesses is another worry, as states grapple with rebounds in coronavirus cases.
“The market is anticipating that there will be something. What the final (package) looks like is a different question,” Northey said.
Gold for August delivery rose another $3.10 to $1,868.20 an ounce, after jumping $21.20 to $1,865.10 an ounce overnight in another sign investors were shifting some holdings to traditionally less risky assets.
The price of benchmark U.S oil for September delivery rose 8 cents to $41.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 6 cents to settle at $41.90 a barrel Wednesday.
Brent crude oil for September delivery picked up 10 cents to $44.39 per ounce.
In currency dealings, the U.S. dollar fetched 107.14 Japanese yen, down from 107.16 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1578 from $1.1569.
AP Business Writers Joe McDonald in Beijing and Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise contributed.
MITO, Japan —