HONG KONG (AP) — Japanese stocks pushed higher on Thursday as the yen sank further against the dollar while other Asian benchmarks struggled for direction after a mixed close on Wall Street.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 15,966.71, underpinned by the weakening yen which boosts earnings of exporting companies. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent to 2,041.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2 percent to 24,602.00 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 0.2 percent to 2,31626. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 5,531.
SUBDUED MOOD: Market momentum is fading and investors are struggling to find catalysts to drive stock prices higher, especially as anticipation builds that the Federal Reserve is closer to winding down its economic stimulus and raising interest rates. In the absence of major economic indicators, geopolitical tensions also weighed on investor sentiment after the U.S. announced tighter sanctions on Russia and a wider military campaign against the Islamic State group.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks spent most of Thursday in the red but ended fairly flat. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.1 percent to close at 17,049 while the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,997.45. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 4,591.81.
CURRENCIES: The greenback is staying strong ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting next week. Some investors believe the Fed will provide more clues on the timing of possible rate hikes. The dollar was trading at a six-year high of 107.32 yen from 107.06 late Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.2918 from $1.2925.
ENERGY: Crude oil rose 2 cents to $92.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.16 to close at $92.83 on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, slipped 25 cents to $98.61 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.