Asian stocks mixed after Wall Street declines

AP News
Posted: Dec 20, 2015 11:02 PM

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese stocks were higher Monday but Japanese markets fell following Wall Street's decline as the impact of a long-awaited U.S. interest rate cut faded.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.8 percent to 3,606.07 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.3 percent to 21,832.32. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 retreated 1.7 percent to 18,664.32. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.3 percent to 5,091.90 and Seoul's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 1,973.33. Taiwan, Jakarta and New Zealand also gained, while Singapore fell.

WALL STREET LOSS: Stocks plunged across all sectors Friday in the heaviest trading of the year as enthusiasm over a long-awaited increase in U.S. interest rates faded. Bank stocks fell the most after investors had bid them up in hopes they would become more profitable as rates climbed. Technology shares suffered more declines as a bad December got worse for Apple. The world's most valuable publicly traded company sank again, bringing its monthly loss to 10 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 367.29 points, or 2.1 percent, to 17,128.55. The S&P 500 index fell 36.34 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,005.55. The Nasdaq composite sank 79.47 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,923.08. All 10 Standard & Poor's 500 sectors fell.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Friday's sell-off underscores the difficulty the U.S. stock market currently has in playing its traditional role as leader of world market rallies. U.S. valuations are full already. This makes the U.S. market vulnerable to risk off moves," said Ric Spooner of CMC Markets in a report. "European markets are likely to be focused on the results of the Spanish election. Early indications that Spain will be governed by an unwieldy coalition will increase the political risk to markets from this pivotal European economy."

SPANISH ELECTION: A strong showing by a pair of upstart parties in Spain's weekend election upended the traditional two-party system. The ruling Popular Party received the most votes but fell far short of a parliamentary majority and is at risk of being booted from power. If forced out of government, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Popular Party would become the third European victims this year of a voter backlash against austerity following elections in Greece and Portugal seen as rebellions against unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 27 cents to $36.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the U.S. Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 19 cents on Friday to close at $36.06. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 40 cents to $36.48 per barrel in London. It declined 18 cents in the previous session to close at $36.88.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 121.21 yen from Friday's 121.15 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0870 from $1.0867.