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Asian shares mixed on Brazil turmoil, Wall Street gains fail to lift

Stock MarketsMay 19, 2017 12:42AM ET
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© Reuters. Asian shares mixed - Stocks in Asia were narrowly mixed on Friday as political turmoil in Brazil that dampened sentiment from overnight Wall Street gains.

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.18%. Toshiba is back in the spotlight on news that state-backed fund Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) would sell a fifth of its shares in Renesas Electronics ahead of the sale of Toshiba's chip unit. The move would add to the coffers of INCJ, which is expected by market watchers to bid for Toshiba's memory chip unit. Shares of Toshiba gained 2.89%.

Meanwhile, Bain Capital's bid for Toshiba's memory chip arm is likely to leave a stake of the unit in the hands of Toshiba, the Nikkei reported. This stake could possibly be controlled by the Japanese conglomerate or INCJ. The move is an attempt to "simplify the antitrust review process," the Nikkei said.

South Korea's Kospi eased 0.20% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index declined 0.18%. The Hang Seng Index rose 031% and the Shanghai Composite turned down 0.18%.

Stocks in Brazil dropped 8.8% Thursday on an emerging scandal involving the country's recently installed president Michel Temer's administration. Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported late Wednesday that Temer gave his blessing to an attempt to pay a potential witness to remain silent in the country's biggest-ever graft probe.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, recovering from their worst day of 2017, after a strong bout of U.S. economic data lifted sentiment.

All three U.S. indexes closed the session in positive, as investors turned attention to the U.S. economic growth story amid the release of stronger jobs and manufacturing data.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said Tuesday that its Philly Fed manufacturing index rose to a seasonally adjusted 38.8, from 22.0 in the preceding month, well above analysts’ expectations of a rise to 19.5.

In a separate report on Tuesday, The Labor Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment insurance for the week ended May 12, dropped by 4000 to 232,000.

Meanwhile, a CSPAN video of recently fired FBI chief James Comey testifying before Congress on May 3, resurfaced in late afternoon trade, causing a spike in both the dollar and U.S. equities.

Some traders misinterpreted the video, and believed Comey’s comments cleared the recent allegation against President Trump that he tried to shut down an FBI investigation into his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.

In the video, Comey was asked whether the U.S. attorney general or senior officials at the Justice Department halted a specific FBI investigation that they opposed; Comey said “it’s not happened in my experience”.

Elsewhere, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester on Thursday repeated her call for further U.S. interest rate hikes in the wake of recent U.S. economic data, showing that the rate of employment and inflation is close to matching the Fed’s objectives.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 20,663.02, up 0.27%. The S&P 500 closed 0.37% higher while the Nasdaq Composite closed at 6055.13, up 0.73%.

Asian shares mixed on Brazil turmoil, Wall Street gains fail to lift

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