ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Finish Mixed In Response To Trump's State Of The Union Speech

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Stocks reverse early declines after mostly conciliatory speech

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Asia-Pacific shares ended mixed Wednesday, after a midsession rally for most indexes when President Donald Trump struck a mostly conciliatory tone in his first State of the Union address.

The index in Australia was up 0.2% and in Hong Kong gained 0.9%, though in South Korea slipped nearly 0.1%, after the trio posted their biggest declines in several months on Tuesday. In fact, the Hang Seng on Monday and Tuesday recorded its first consecutive days of declines since mid-December.

"It is not a market-upsetting speech; rather a motherhood and apple pie in the great American tradition," said Rob Carnell, head of research for Asia-Pacific at Dutch bank ING.

He noted there was no major criticism of Russia and China, while details on infrastructure spending were thin. Elaborating on the latter could have pushed bond yields higher still, playing into recent market nervousness.

Trump mostly stayed away from surprises (http://www.marketwatch.com/topics/Subjects/state-of-the-union) and signaled a willingness to work across party lines.

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New Zealand's NZX 50 saw the biggest gain and finished up 1.7% thanks to a 55-point spike at the close, which saw the index rise 0.5% for the month. It's the 13th straight monthly gain for an index that jumped 22% in 2017, the best year since 2012.

Chinese equities fell early amid the expiration of futures contracts Wednesday and a decline to eight-month lows for a key manufacturing reading for January. They rebounded only briefly in the general upsweep, then returned to the red. The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.2%.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei spent time both higher and lower before ending down 0.8%.

And oil futures extended this week's pullback, falling nearly 1% further in Asia following a U.S. industry group saying domestic crude supplies rose nearly double the amount expected to be shown in Wednesday's government release.

Energy stocks in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia were down roughly 1.5%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 31, 2018 07:18 ET (12:18 GMT)