Asian shares recoup losses, dollar steady as eyes on Trump

By IndustriesAssociated Press

Shares are modestly higher in Asia, recouping losses from earlier in the week as the dollar steadies against other currencies. Investors are watching for President Donald Trump's comments later Friday to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent to 23,703.83 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,566.15. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 1.1 percent to 32,998.48 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.3 percent to 3,559.23. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed. Australian markets were closed for a holiday.

WORDS ON DOLLAR: On Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to clarify earlier comments on the desirability of a weak dollar that had precipitated a dip in its value against other major currencies. In the long run, "I fundamentally believe in the strength of the dollar," Mnuchin said. The dollar steadied after that comment and one by Trump, who said that "ultimately, I want to see a strong dollar."

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.39 yen from 109.43 yen while the euro strengthened to $1.2427 from $1.2397.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The plunge in the dollar (down 13 percent since the start of 2017) is basically a monetary easing for the U.S. and will further boost U.S. growth, profits and shares. However, it's working against Fed tightening, increasing the likelihood that it will get more hawkish and U.S. tariff hikes risk driving a stronger, not weaker, U.S. dollar," Shane Oliver of AMP Capital said in a commentary.

DATA WATCH: The U.S. domestic product for the fourth-quarter of 2017 is due to be released Friday and is expected to show continued strong expansion of the world's largest economy.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished mixed on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 0.1 percent to 2,839.25 and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.5 percent to 26,392.79. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.1 percent to 7,411.16. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose or 0.1 percent to 1,601.67.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 5 cents to $65.46 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 10 cents to close at $65.51 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 19 cents to $70.23 per barrel in London.