Asian shares mixed as investors mull US data

A man walks near an advertisement showing bank's interest rates in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Asian shares were mixed on Friday after a hodge-podge of economic data led Wall Street to close mostly lower. - AP

SINGAPORE, Sept 17 (AP): Asian shares were mixed on Friday after a hodge-podge of economic data led Wall Street to close mostly lower.

Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul but fell in Shanghai and Sydney.

Across the region, concerns over prolonged outbreak of coronavirus have weighed on sentiment.

"Overall, the mood remains a little downbeat in the markets, with investors torn between the ‘buy the dip' approach that has fared so well in the past and the growing list of economic and market risks that are increasingly evident," Craig Erlam of Oanda said in a commentary.

In Japan, stocks have been trading near three-decade highs in anticipation of a change in leadership after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pulled out of the running for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Suga's support ratings had languished amid wide public dissatisfaction with his administration's response to the pandemic.

LDP lawmakers and grassroots members will vote on Sept. 29, with a parliamentary election due next month.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index added 0.6% to 30,500.05. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rebounded from losses earlier in the week to gain 0.2%, at 24,723.57. The Kospi in Seoul edged 0.1% higher to 3,132.76.

The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 3,595.24, while the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney declined 0.8% to 7,399.90.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average each lost about 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to eke out a gain of 0.1%.

The market edged higher in the early going after a surprisingly good retail sales report for August, but then fell back.

Markets have been choppy as investors shift money between various sectors while parsing data for clues about where the economy is headed and how the Federal Reserve will react.

The central bank will meet next week, and investors will listen closely for any comments about when and how much it will taper support for low interest rates that have helped fuel gains for stocks throughout the year.

The S&P 500 fell 6.95 points to 4,473.75. It is within 1.4% of the all-time high it set on Sept. 2. The Dow dropped 63.07 points to 34,751.32, while the Nasdaq added 20.39 points to 15,181.92.

Small company stocks also gave up some ground. The Russell 2000 index slipped 0.1% to 2,232.91.

The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.7% last month. Economists had expected a 0.85% contraction, reasoning that spending would have fallen as the highly contagious delta variant of Covid-19 prompts consumers to pull back on shopping.

Wall Street also weighed a disappointing report showing that weekly unemployment claims rose more than expected.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.34% from 1.30% late Wednesday.

In other trading, US benchmark crude oil fell 23 cents to US$72.38 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was unchanged overnight at $72.61 per barrel.

Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, shed 22 cents to US$75.45 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 109.88 Japanese yen from 109.81 yen late Thursday. The euro climbed to $1.1773 from $1.1761. - AP

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