Asia stocks drift before Shanghai free trade plan

AP News
Posted: Sep 26, 2013 11:25 PM
Asia stocks drift before Shanghai free trade plan

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks drifted on Friday, with markets in China edging slightly higher as investors stayed cautious ahead of a major holiday and an announcement on details on a free trade zone in Shanghai. Stocks in Tokyo slid after Japan's inflation spiked.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose nearly 0.1 percent to 23,135.69 while in mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced marginally to 2,156.68.

Investors in China were laying low ahead of an announcement scheduled for Sunday that would outline details of a highly anticipated free trade zone in Shanghai. A weeklong holiday that starts on Tuesday was also expected to keep some investors on the sidelines.

Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.2 percent to 14,776.18 after the country's consumer price inflation rose at the fastest rate in five years.

South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.3 percent to 2,012.93 while Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,306.40. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore also advanced.

In the U.S., upbeat economic data supported stocks. Reports showed unemployment claims fell to their second lowest level in six years and the economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 0.4 percent to 15,328 while the S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to close at 1,698.67. The Nasdaq climbed 0.7 percent to 3,787.

In currencies, the euro strengthened to $1.3484 from $1.3490 in late trading Thursday. The dollar slipped to 98.72 yen from 99.00 yen.

In energy markets, benchmark oil for November delivery fell 33 cents to $102.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 37 cents to settle at $103.03 on Thursday.