TOKYO – Most financial markets were closed in Asia on Monday for lunar new year holidays, but shares fell in Japan and Australia on uncertainty over the potential impact of President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and other immigration actions.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent to 19,368.85. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia dropped 0.9 percent to 5,661.50 and India's Sensex was nearly flat at 27,894.10. Shares rose in Thailand and Indonesia. Many other Asian markets were closed.
TRUMP TRAVEL BAN: The executive order signed by Trump on Friday placed a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen. It imposed a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program and blocked Syrians from entry indefinitely. The move triggered protests and confusion at U.S. airports and raised uncertainty for airlines and high-tech industries that employ many foreign-born workers, analysts said.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "World leaders were quick to condemn President Trump's executive order to ban U.S. travel from seven Muslim countries. The global reaction has been one of universal condemnation," Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA, wrote in a commentary. "The increase in civil unrest alone should be a concern for investors, and with a lack of clarity on the economic policy front, markets will be cantankerous early in the week as they're completely uncertain of what's next from President Trump on the geopolitical landscape."
JAPAN DATA: Monthly data for December released Monday showed retail sales fell 1.7 percent from a month earlier. Core inflation excluding volatile food items fell 0.2 percent, showing deflation still is weighing on the economy, discouraging the wage increases needed to spur more consumption and investment, and raising doubts over how much momentum the economy may have gathered late in the year, just as the Bank of Japan holds its first policy meeting of 2017.No major changes are expected from the meeting, which wraps up Tuesday.
WALL STREET: Wall Street capped a week of milestones Friday with a day of listless trading that left U.S. stock indexes mostly lower. The Dow was nearly flat at 20,093.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,294.69 and the Nasdaq composite eked out a 0.1 percent gain to 5,660.78, setting another all-time high. The market drifted between small gains and losses through much of the day as investors weighed company earnings and new data on the U.S. economy showing annual growth of just 1.9 percent in the last three months of 2016, a slowdown from 3.5 percent in the previous quarter. For 2016, the economy grew 1.6 percent, the worst showing since 2011 and down from 2.6 percent in 2015.
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ENERGY: U.S. crude oil lost 23 cents to $52.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 61 cents on Friday to $53.78. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 29 cents to $55.41 a barrel. It lost 79 cents to $55.70 a barrel on Friday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 114.56 yen from 115.08 on Friday. The euro rose to $1.0722 from $1.0699.