Asian markets mostly higher as 2018 trading opens

By JOE McDONALD Markets Associated Press

Asian stock markets were mostly higher Tuesday as 2018 trading began and investors looked ahead to whether the record-setting U.S. equity run will last.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1 percent to 3,339.63 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.4 percent to 30,350.50. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent to 2,471.06 while Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.1 percent to 6,058.90. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Jakarta and Singapore rose.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks slid on the final trading day of 2017 but turned in their strongest annual performance since 2013. Technology companies, banks and health care stocks accounted for much of the decline. Energy stocks fell, even as the price of U.S. crude oil surged to its highest level in more than two years. The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended the day down 0.5 percent at 2,673.61. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.5 percent to 24,719.22. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.7 percent to 6,903.39. For the year, the S&P rose 19.4 percent over 2016 and the Dow gained 25.1 percent. The Nasdaq recorded the biggest advance, ending the year up 28.2 percent.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "U.S. equities ending the year off the highs may not be a bad thing and surely does not distract from the year's stellar 19-28 percent gain depending on the stock market gauge. Question in 2018 is what it will take for more of the same," said Mizuho Bank in a report. "And if there is a New (non-bullish) theme in town this Year, investors long in equities will be less Happy; even if equity bull run is getting long in the tooth."

CHINA MANUFACTURING: A survey by Chinese business magazine Caixin found manufacturing activity in December accelerated by its biggest margin in four months. The magazine's purchasing managers' index rose to 51.5 from November's 50.8 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity improving. The surveyed showed exports, total output and buying activity rising.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 22 cents to $60.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 48 cents on Friday to close at $60.42. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 22 cents to $67.09 in London. It rose 71 cents the previous session to $66.87.

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CURRENCY: The dollar edged up to 112.70 yen from 112.68 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.2009.