Asian stocks mixed on Obama visit, US dip

AP News
Posted: Apr 23, 2014 9:37 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares lacked a clear direction in early Thursday trading as players took a mostly wait-and-see view ahead of talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama.

Adding to the mixed view was the fall on Wall Street overnight, despite a solid earnings report from Apple Inc. that sent that issue higher. Other earnings reports were disappointing.

The Nikkei, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, lost 0.15 percent within the first hour of trading to 14,524.66. South Korea's Kospi inched up 0.1 percent to 2,002.44.

Asia is abuzz this week with Obama's arrival late Wednesday in Tokyo for the first state visit by an American president to Japan in nearly 20 years. He will later go to South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Focus is on what Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may say about negotiations on a wide-reaching trans-Pacific trade agreement, despite resistance from local interests on both sides to wiping out tariffs.

Sentiment on Asian markets were dampened by worries about the U.S. economy, highlighted by a surprise drop in new home sales as well as dismal earnings.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,875.39. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 12.72 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,501.65 and the Nasdaq composite fell 34.49 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,126.97.

Elsewhere in the world, stocks mostly slid Wednesday.

The pessimism overshadowed confirmation from the European Union that Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013 — what's left when interest payments are stripped out.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.1 percent at 6,674.74 while Germany's DAX fell 0.6 percent to 9,544.19. The CAC-40 in France ended 0.7 percent lower at 4,451.08.

The dollar was little changed in early Asian trading at 102.47 yen from 102.51 yen late the previous day. The euro was higher at $1.3820 from $1.3716.

A barrel of benchmark New York crude was down 14 cents at $101.61.