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Asian Stocks Ease After Early Gains    07/18 06:05

   Asian markets have eased after early gains as a sweep of positive news from 
Wall Street and beyond boosted confidence in the U.S. economy.

   SINGAPORE (AP) -- Asian markets have eased after early gains as a sweep of 
positive news from Wall Street and beyond boosted confidence in the U.S. 
economy.

   KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.4 percent to 22,794.19. 
The index had rallied 1 percent in early Wednesday trading. South Korea's Kospi 
lost 0.4 percent to 2,288.67, after the country's government dramatically cut 
its outlook on the job market and slightly lowered its growth forecast. Hong 
Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent to 28,093.95 and the Shanghai Composite index 
dropped 0.2 percent to 2,792.28. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.6 percent to 
6,241.20. Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

   WALL STREET: U.S indexes rebounded after a weak start on solid gains for 
retailers, technology and household goods companies. Prescription drug business 
Johnson & Johnson and financial services company Charles Schwab posted bullish 
earnings, adding to the largely positive corporate earnings season. The S&P 500 
index rose 0.4 percent to 2,809.55. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 
percent to 25,119.89. The Nasdaq composite jumped 0.6 percent to 7,855.12, 
surpassing the record high it set last week. The Russell 2000 index of 
smaller-company stocks climbed 0.5 percent to 1,687.26.

   UPBEAT FED COMMENT: Delivering his twice-a-year report on monetary policy to 
Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he expects the job market 
to remain robust and inflation to hover around the Fed's 2 percent target for 
the next few years. Stocks have fallen after Powell's previous major addresses, 
but not on Tuesday.

   U.S. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION: The Fed said U.S. industrial production, 
including output at factories, mines and utilities, climbed 0.6 percent in 
June. It fell 0.5 percent in May after a fire disrupted production of Ford 
Motor's F-series pickup trucks, America's bestselling vehicle. U.S. 
manufacturing still looks healthy despite trade conflicts with China, Europe 
and Canada and a rising dollar that makes U.S. products more expensive abroad.

   ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "While earnings and the highly-watched testimony to 
Senate by Fed chair Powell played a part, movements remained largely muted with 
the likes of the Dow and the S&P 500 index clocking only moderate gains 
overnight," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.

   ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 52 cents to $67.56 per barrel in 
electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract was 
relatively unchanged at $68.08 in New York on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to 
price international oils, shed 42 cents to $71.74 per barrel.

   CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.03 yen from 112.83 yen late Tuesday. The 
euro eased to $1.1631 from $1.1664.


(BE)

 
 
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