Stocks edge higher on mixed bag of corporate earnings

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SINGAPORE (AP) — Benchmarks in Asia were mixed with thin trading on Friday after a discouraging day on Wall Street. News reports highlighting obstacles in the way of a China-U.S. trade deal also weighed on sentiment.

The Kospi in South Korea dropped 0.6% to 2,199.58 while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was 0.1% higher at 6,345.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.2% to 29,875.50. Stocks rose in Taiwan but fell in Singapore and Indonesia. Markets in Japan and mainland China were closed.

U.S. website Politico, citing a representative of a lobbying group for American businesses, reported that the deal may not see China putting a commitment to cut back on state subsidies in writing. Global Times, a Chinese tabloid, noted that there were fewer details from recent negotiations in Beijing. But there was an overall consensus that both countries would ink a deal at some point.

On Thursday, losses by energy, technology and communications stocks handed Wall Street its second straight loss.

The broad S&P S&P 500 index fell 0.2% to 2,917.52 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5% to 26,307.79. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite was down 0.2% at 8,036.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks edged 0.4% higher to 1,582.65.

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Traders are still mulling over recent comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who said the central bank was “comfortable” with its current policy stance. This was taken to mean that the Fed was not likely to cut interest rates this year despite low inflation.

“Asia is unlikely to look past Wall Street’s performance overnight for initial direction,” Jeffrey Halley of OANDA said in a commentary.

“And with post-Fed position unwinding in full swing, non-farm payrolls tonight and the upcoming weekend, traders in Asia could decide discretion is the better part of valor and lighten long equity positions as well,” he added.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 8 cents to $61.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It sank $1.79 to settle at $61.81 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 23 cents to $70.52 per barrel. It gave up $1.43 to close at $70.75 per barrel in the previous session.

CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 111.49 Japanese yen from 111.51 yen late Thursday. The euro fell to $1.1173 from $1.1176.

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