Asian shares mixed as attacks in Egypt add to uncertainties
By YURI KAGEYAMA
Asian shares were wavering Monday after attacks by suicide bombers on churches in Egypt added to uncertainties in the Middle East. News that China’s top anti-corruption body is investigating the insurance regulator pulled shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen lower.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7 percent to 18,789.03, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 also gained 0.7 percent to 5,901.80. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.9 percent to 2,132.84. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was little changed at 24,273.60, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.3 percent to 3,276.86. Shares were lower in Taiwan and mixed in Southeast Asia.
WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 0.1 percent on Friday to 2,355.54. The Dow Jones industrial average was almost unchanged at 20,656.10 and the Nasdaq composite was steady at 5,877.71.
GEOPOLITICS: President Donald Trump’s meetings Friday-Saturday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping seemed to have little major impact on markets. But U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian air base last week were followed by the bombings at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt that killed 44 people. Meanwhile in Asia, the Pentagon said a Navy carrier strike group was moving toward the western Pacific Ocean to provide more of a physical presence in the region. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. missile strikes carry a message for any nation operating outside of international norms. Worries have been growing about North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear weapons program.
THE QUOTE: "Volatility was substantially higher last week, and safe-haven asset prices soared as geopolitical tensions and financial uncertainties rose. Therefore, a ‘risk-off’ sentiment will probably continue to overshadow stock markets in the near term," Margaret Yang of CMC Markets said in a commentary.
CHINA CORRUPTION PROBE: The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said the chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission was suspected of unspecified "severe discipline violations," an official term for corruption. The industry has been hit by complaints insurers are making dangerously risky investments in stocks and real estate.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 15 cents to $52.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 54 cents to $52.24 a barrel late Friday in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 8 cents to $55.32 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.40 yen from 110.55 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro fell to $1.0584 from $1.0649.
Yuri Kageyama can be reached at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/yuri-kageyama