Asian shares mixed, but mostly flat under trade pressures

A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Asian shares were mostly higher but little changed Tuesday, as global investors were relieved to see that the attack on Syria likely won't escalate but worries remained about U.S.-China trade tensions.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO - Asian shares were mixed but mostly flat Tuesday, amid persisting worries over trade tensions between China and the U.S. Overnight, investors registered relief that air strikes on Syria were contained and unlikely to escalate.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 erased initial gains and finished up 0.1 per cent at 21,847.59. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 per cent to 5,847.50. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.3 per cent to 2,451.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 per cent at 30,232.41, while the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.7 per cent to 3,088.07. Shares fell in Taiwan but rose in Singapore and Indonesia.

CHINA FACTOR: China's economic growth held steady in the quarter ending in March, buoyed by investment and rapid growth in e-commerce despite trade tensions with Washington. The world's second-largest economy expanded by 6.8 per cent over a year earlier, in line with the quarter ending in December and down slightly from 2017's full-year expansion of 6.9 per cent, data showed Tuesday.

GEOPOLITICAL FACTOR: Investors have begun putting aside concerns over Friday night's missile attack by the U.S., Britain and France on Syria's chemical weapons program. On Monday, the White House said it was considering imposing additional sanctions on Russia, a key ally of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index rose 0.8 per cent to 2,677.84 and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.9 per cent to 24,573.04. The Nasdaq added 0.7 per cent to 7,156.28. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 0.9 per cent to 1,563.03.

THE QUOTE: "Concerns on the situation in Syria have eased as markets saw U.S.-led air strikes largely as a one-off event rather than an ongoing crisis," Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank in Singapore said in a commentary. "While there have been tentative evidences of de-escalation of trade tension, there are still lingering risks beneath the surface."

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 38 cents to $66.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It declined $1.17 to settle at $66.22 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 32 cents to $71.74 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.02 yen from 107.12 yen late Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.2388 from $1.2380.


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