Asian markets mostly higher after Wall Street gains

Trader Gordon Charlop works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Stocks are opening broadly higher on Wall Street as investors were pleased to see strong earnings reports from a number of U.S. companies. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Asian stock markets are mostly higher after Wall Street gained on strong corporate earnings

BEIJING — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday after Wall Street gained on strong corporate earnings.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.4 percent to 22,610.83 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6 percent to 28,831.39. The Shanghai Composite Index was off 2 points at 2,904.39 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.2 percent to 6,254.40. Seoul's Kospi lost 0.1 percent to 2,277.18. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Southeast Asia rose while Taiwan declined.

WALL STREET: Gains by technology companies and health care stocks outweighed losses in consumer goods manufacturers, retailers and other sectors. Smaller-company stocks turned sharply lower as investors weighed the impact of the Trump administration's decision to send emergency aid to farmers hurt by tariffs in a trade dispute with China. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 2,820.40. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8 percent to 25,241.94. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.11 points to 7,840.77.

US-CHINA TRADE: Farmers welcomed government cash to help offset lost exports but said they would rather have President Donald Trump settled trade disputes with China, Mexico, Canada and Europe. The Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion plan to pay producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. The USDA also will buy the surplus of commodities that would otherwise have been exported and distribute them to food banks and other nutrition programs. That will cover fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk.

ANALYST COMMENT: Trump's comment on Twitter that "Tariffs are the greatest!" suggests "relief will be short-lived," said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a report. Trump's aid to farmers "points to staying the course on tariffs for now; or at least turning up the heat" ahead of possible U.S.-Chinese negotiations.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 27 cents to $68.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 63 cents on Tuesday to close at $68.52. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 47 cents to $73.91 per barrel in London. It advanced 38 cents the previous session to $73.44.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 111.30 yen from Tuesday's 111.17 yen. The euro declined to $1.1679 from $1.1686.

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