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Asia Markets: Asia stocks mixed after day of inaction on Wall Street

Asia stocks struggle after a listless day of trade on Wall Street. Read More...

Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after a mixed Wall Street close on listless trading.

Benchmarks in Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul rose. Shanghai and Hong Kong declined as investors watched for Chinese trade data.

Traders were hoping for a “good set of figures” from Beijing following unexpectedly strong March manufacturing and inflation data, said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report.

Major U.S. stock indexes closed unevenly Thursday after losses in health care stocks mostly offset gains in industrial companies and banks. Major European indexes closed mostly higher.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index NIK, +0.73%   rose 0.7%, while the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.29%  fell 0.5%.

Electric-vehicle makers and stocks linked to the Shanghai free-trade zone rose, while consumer stocks continue to pull back in China. Moutai 600519, -1.32%  fell 2%. Meanwhile, Visual China 000681, -10.00%  fell the 10% daily limit after shutting down its patent-exchange platform amid a government order to fix what it calls illegal patent practices that include the black-hole picture recently published.

Seoul’s Kospi SEU, +0.37%  advanced 0.2% to 2,228.94 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.2% to 6,240.70. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -0.27%   shed 0.4% and India’s Sensex 1, -0.06%   was flat, along with New Zealand and Taiwan.

On Wall Street Thursday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 SPX, +0.00%  added less than 0.1% to 2,888.32. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.05%  fell 0.1%, to 26,143.05. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.21%  slid 0.2%, to 7,947.36.

The U.S. market gave back some of the previous day’s gains after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed the majority of officials want to keep interest rates unchanged. Investors want the central bank to take a more laid-back approach to avoid triggering a market slump.

Traders are focused on company earnings reports the next few weeks in hopes of gleaning fresh clues about the trajectory of the economy.

Analysts expect companies in the S&P 500 to report a 3.3% drop in earnings per share from a year earlier, which would be the first decline since the spring of 2016. The expected drop in profits is due almost entirely to weaker profit margins.

Benchmark U.S. crude CLK9, +0.46%  gained 25 cents to $63.83 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.03 on Thursday to close at $63.58. Brent crude LCOM9, +0.38%  , used to price international oils, added 26 cents to $71.09 per barrel in London. It fell 90 cents the previous session to $70.83.

The dollar USDJPY, +0.14%  gained to 111.76 yen from Thursday’s 111.66 yen. The euro EURUSD, +0.3021%  rose to $1.1284 from $1.1257.

This story was compiled from Dow Jones Newswire reports and the Associated Press.

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