Friday, August 22, 2014
HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks inched higher on Friday after a record day on Wall Street powered by upbeat data that adds to evidence the world's biggest economy is gaining strength. Gains were tempered as investors awaited a key meeting of U.S. central bankers that's expected to shed light on the interest rate outlook.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent to 15,598.71 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.6 percent to 2,056.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.4 percent to 25,085.84 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China gained 0.2 percent to 2,234.47.. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 5,654.80.
YELLEN SPEECH: Attention will turn to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is set to headline an annual conference of central bankers and other policymakers from around the globe. Her speech on the labor market will be parsed by investors looking for any hints on the timing of interest rate hikes, which will have implications for stock markets and currencies.
JOBS AND HOMES: U.S. unemployment benefit claims fell by 14,000 last week to 298,000 while existing homes sales rose in July to 5.15 million, the highest annual rate since September, providing further signs of the economy's rebound.
WALL STREET: The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to close at 1,992.37, which is four points above the previous closing high set on July 24. The Dow rose 0.4 percent to 17,039.49, the first time it has finished above 17,000 since July 24. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 4,532.10.
CURRENCIES: The euro strengthened to $1.3281 from $1.3278 in late trading Thursday. The dollar weakened to 103.83 yen from 103.84 yen.
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil for October delivery fell 16 cents to $93.80 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 51 cents to settle at $93.96 on Thursday. Brent crude shed 16 cents to $102.47 on the ICE exchange in London.