Asian stocks decline as traders mull Trump inquiry


FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo floor governor Michael Smyth works at the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 26. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks fell Friday as traders weighed data showing slower U.S. economic growth and also the possible impact of an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

The congressional inquiry into Trump is throwing more volatility into a market that already was nervous over U.S.-Chinese trade tension.

“The impeachment of Trump will now become a drawn-out saga that feels like annoying supermarket music,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

Also Thursday, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy grew at a modest 2% in the second quarter, sharply lower than the past year’s 3%-plus growth rates.

The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2% to 2,933.47 on the last day of trading before Chinese markets close for a weeklong holiday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.4% to 21,747.82 as a long-dreaded Oct. 1 hike in Japan’s sales tax to 10% from the current 8% loomed. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.3% to 25,982.54 and Seoul’s Kospi dropped 1.2% to 2,048.86.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 6,703.70. Markets in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia retreated.

Traders were encouraged by a Chinese Commerce Ministry announcement that importers had agreed to buy U.S. soybeans as the two sides make conciliatory gestures ahead of trade talks. That followed an earlier decision to list punitive tariffs on soybeans, the biggest Chinese import from the United States.

Plans to go ahead with negotiations next month have helped to ease market jitters but there has been no sign of progress toward resolving the bruising tariff war over trade and technology.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.2% to 2,977.62 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.3% to 26,891.12. The Nasdaq dropped 0.6% to 8,030.66.

While many analysts say the Trump probe isn’t likely to affect the market significantly, it does add a degree of uncertainty and could complicate the White House’s efforts to resolve trade disputes with China and other nations.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 29 cents to $56.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gave up 8 cents to $56.41 on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 56 cents to $61.18 per barrel in London. It retreated 31 cents the previous session to $61.74.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.72 yen from Thursday’s 107.83 yen. The euro rose to $1.0925 from $1.0920.

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