Asian stocks mixed as traders follow US presidential debate

AP , Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Asian stock markets were mostly higher Tuesday as traders followed the U.S. presidential debate between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 1.1 percent to 23,571.79 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was up 0.6 percent at 16,635.29. The Shanghai Composite Index was unchanged at 2,969.14. Seoul's Kospi added 0.9 percent to 2,017.94 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 5,497.40. India's Sensex gained 0.2 percent to 28,342.26 and benchmarks in New Zealand and Thailand advanced. Other Southeast Asian markets declined.

DEBATE WATCH: Investors were watching the Clinton-Trump debate in a tight race that has unnerved markets seeking certainty about the future of U.S. policy. Trump has called for controls on trade and immigration, while Clinton is seen as more engaged with Asia. Uncertainty about the election outcome has made global markets risk-averse.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Markets are searching for the least worse option between the two U.S. candidates. One is a known market bad, the other an unknown bad," said Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets in a report. "Any ramping up of populist rhetoric would likely rattle investors. Any perception that the outsider candidate won the debate could bring a market rout."

EUROPEAN BANKS: European banks tumbled after the German magazine Focus said Deutsche Bank won't get a government bailout if it asks for one. U.S.-traded shares of Deutsche Bank fell 7.1 percent. Focus said the German government also won't help the Deutsche Bank by intervening with U.S. officials who want it to pay $14 billion to end an investigation into its sale of mortgage-backed securities.

WALL STREET: Stocks fell for a second straight day. Banks were hurt by a drop in bond yields, which means lower interest rates and smaller profits on loans. Consumer companies fell as home improvement retailers were affected by a slowdown in sales of new homes. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 166.62 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,094.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 18.59 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,146.10. The Nasdaq composite dropped 48.26 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,257.49. Stocks are coming off two weeks of solid gains, and the Nasdaq set all-time highs twice last week.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 6 cents to $45.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.45 on Monday to close at $45.93. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 13 cents to $47.80 in London. It gained $1.45 the previous session to $47.93.

CURRENCY: The dollar strengthened to 100.79 yen from Monday's 100.37 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.1246.

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