Asian markets mixed as market awaits Trump Fed decision

By JOE McDONALDEconomic IndicatorsAssociated Press

Asian stock markets were mixed Monday as investors waited to find out who U.S. President Donald Trump will pick to head the Federal Reserve.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.1 percent to 21,995.15 and the Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.7 percent to 3,392.03. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was flat at 28,448.81. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,922.20. Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.3 percent to 2,502.59 and benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Jakarta also rose. Singapore declined.

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FED WATCH: Investors expect Trump to announce his choice for Fed chair as early as Monday. News reports Friday suggested Trump most likely would not offer Janet Yellen a second term and was instead leaning toward Jay Powell, a Fed board member who until recently was the only Republican on the board. Analysts see Powell as a safe choice who would follow Yellen's monetary strategy.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "President Trump should announce who the new Fed Chair will be after keeping us on tenterhooks for the last few months. The market favorite is continuity candidate Jerome Powell (though with President Trump, you never know until the ink on the contract has dried)," said Rob Carnell of ING in a report. "This may make for an interesting (awkward) FOMC meeting on 1 November, though besides teeing the market up for a December rate hike, no one is expecting much from this."

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks set new records on Friday as Microsoft and Alphabet soared following strong third-quarter reports, as did online retail giant Amazon. Intel made its biggest gains in three years, while Microsoft had its biggest jump in two years and Alphabet, Google's parent company, made its largest move in more than a year after each company's results were better than Wall Street expected. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.8 percent to a record 2,581.07. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1 percent to 23,434.19. The Nasdaq composite made its biggest gain since November as it soared 2.2 percent, to a record 6,701.26.

ASIA'S WEEK: Investors are looking ahead to a week of potentially market-moving Asian data. China and other countries in the region are due to report its monthly manufacturing indexes, along with Korean trade, factory production and inflation. Tokyo will report its economic indicators for September, while the Bank of Japan is due to announce interest rate policy on Tuesday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude advanced 3 cents to $53.93 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract soared $1.26 on Friday to close at $53.90. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 1 cent to $60.12 in London. It jumped $1.09 the previous session to $60.13.

CURRENCY: The dollar edged down to 113.61 yen from Friday's 113.68 yen. The euro was little changed at $1.1612.