World shares mixed as US says trade deal with China ready

Finance and Business

An investor checks stock prices through his smartphone at a brokerage house in Beijing, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. Stocks were mixed in early trading in Asia on Friday after Wall Street posted more record highs, extending the market’s gains for the week. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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TOKYO (AP) — Global shares meandered in a narrow range on Friday despite another session of record highs on Wall Street.

Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1% lower to 7,565.53 while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.2% to 5,981.93. Germany’s DAX was little changed at 13,216.25. U.S. shares were set for a tepid start, with the future contract for the S&P 500 down less than 0.1% and the contract for the Dow Jones 0.03% lower.

There was little apparent reaction after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that a preliminary trade deal with China would be ready for signing in early January. Mnuchin told CNBC that he was “very confident” the deal would help rebalance trade and open Chinese markets to more American products and services.

The deal with Beijing is “just going through what I would consider to be a technical, legal scrub,” Mnuchin said. He said he expected the agreement to result in a doubling of U.S. farm exports to China and that American farmers would be up to the task. China, however, has not confirmed any details of its plans for purchases of U.S. farm products. A Commerce Ministry spokesman in Beijing on Thursday said only that the two sides were in “close communication.”

The major U.S. stock indexes have climbed to record highs as investors welcomed the news that Washington and Beijing had taken steps to cool their trade conflict.

“Indeed, agreement of the ‘Phase 1’ deal between the U.S. and China has removed quite a lot of uncertainties in the outlook for 2020, and with the global growth revival trade is looking better and better by the day, equity investors are reveling in the holiday cheer,” Stephen Innes of AxiTrader said in a commentary.

In Asia on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged 0.2% lower to 23,816.63 and the S&P ASX 200 in Australia lost 0.3% to 6,816.30. The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.4% to 3,004.94. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.3% to 27,871.35, while the Sensex in Mumbai advanced 0.1% to 41,727.67.. South Korea’s Kospi picked up 0.4% to 2,204.18. Shares fell in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia.

Trump became just the third U.S. president to be impeached after the House voted Wednesday on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress in an investigation.

The President had warned months ago that his impeachment would roil markets, but traders say it has virtually no impact. That’s mostly because they see it as extremely unlikely that he or his market-friendly policies will leave office before the end of his term.

“We’ve kind of known how this was going to play out for months,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments. “That just means that everybody has had an opinion, and whatever opinion that is it’s been priced into the market.”

Overnight, U.S. markets shrugged off the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives, chosing to focus instead on encouraging earnings reports from several big companies. The broad gains on Wall Street erased the S&P 500’s slight losses from a day earlier. The benchmark index has notched gains six out of the past seven days.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% to 3,205.37. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5%, to 28,376.96, a record. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.7% to 8,887.22, also a record. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks added 0.3% to 1,667.09.

A gauge measuring how worried traders are about upcoming swings for the S&P 500 rose only 0.6%.

Benchmark crude oil lost 3 cents to $61.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 11 cents to $66.65 a barrel.

The dollar was unchanged at 109.35 Japanese yen. The euro was unchanged, at $1.1121.

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