Asian shares mostly higher after Wall Street record highs

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday after record highs on Wall Street amid investor optimism about an interim U.S.-China trade deal announced last week.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 erased earlier gains to inch down 0.3% to 24,000.36 in morning trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2% to 6,862.50. South Korea’s Kospi was little changed inching down to 2,193.73. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up nearly 0.3% to 27,916.48. while the Shanghai Composite added 0.3% to 3,032.10.

Wall Street extended its milestone-shattering run Tuesday, nudging the major indexes to more record highs.

The S&P 500 had its fifth gain in a row. The benchmark index and the Nasdaq closed at new highs for the fourth straight day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also closed at a record high, it’s second milestone this week.

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A Federal Reserve meeting last week also spurred buying after investors saw signals from Chairman Jerome Powell that interest rates will stay low for a while.

“A lot of the strength that we’re seeing is just a continuation of the ‘Phase 1’ U.S.-China deal from last week and some potential clarity around Brexit,” said Jamie Lavin, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “But, really, this morning one of the things that’s kept us higher is we did see some stronger economic data.”

The S&P 500 rose 1.07 points, or less than 0.1%, to 3,192.52. With less than three weeks left in 2019, the index is up 27.4% for the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 31.27 points, or 0.1%, to 28,267.16. The Nasdaq climbed 9.13 points or 0.1%, to 8,823.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 7.63 points, or 0.5%, to 1,657.56.

“Global economic outlook seems to have improved in November and is going to extend the positive trajectory into early 2020,” said Margaret Yang at CMC Markets.

The U.S. and China agreed last week to cut tariffs on some of each others’ goods and postpone other tariff threats. The interim trade deal has helped ease a key source of uncertainty for investors heading into next year.

The latest batch of economic data also helps buttress traders’ confidence in the health of the U.S. economy. In August, fears that the U.S. was headed for recession roiled markets.

The Fed said Tuesday that industrial production and manufacturing were stronger last month than economists expected, though they are weaker than a year ago. Industrial production rebounded to 1.1% growth in November from October, better than the 0.8% that the market was expecting. But it remains 0.8% below year-ago levels.

U.S. housing data were also stronger than expected. Homebuilders broke ground on 3.2% more homes in November than October, well above the 1.2% growth that economists had projected. In addition, applications for building permits jumped to the highest level in 12 years.

ENERGY:

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 37 cents to $60.57. It rose 73 cents to $60.94 per barrel Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 30 cents to $65.80 per barrel.

CURRENCIES:

The dollar fell to 109.44 Japanese yen from 109.59 yen on Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.1137 from $1.1159.

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AP Business Writers Alex Veiga and Stan Choe contributed to this report.

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