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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - BEIJING: Asian stock markets sank Thursday after the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump and Japan’s central bank kept ultra-low interest rates unchanged.
Following a listless day on Wall Street, investors looked ahead to other interest rate decisions by central banks in Indonesia, Taiwan and Sweden. Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Southeast Asia retreated.
The House vote sends Trump’s case to the Senate for trial. Republicans who control that house say they plan to acquit him.
Trump is accused of abusing his office by pressing the government of Ukraine to investigate a potential political rival ahead of next year’s presidential election. He also is accused of obstructing efforts by Congress to investigate those allegations.
The outcome will be “greater polarization, and a rapid Senate dismissal of the charges made in the House, and then even greater polarization,” said Rabobank in a report.
The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent to 3,010.73 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.3 percent to 23,868.82. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 0.5 percent to 27,747.22.
Seoul’s Kospi was off one point at 2,193.51 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 6,833.10. India’s Sensex opened up 0.1 percent at 41,622.19 while New Zealand also gained. Taiwan, Singapore and Jakarta retreated.
The Bank of Japan left its short-term policy rate unchanged at -0.1 percent and its target for 10-year government bond yields at 0 percent.
The bank downgraded its view on industrial production but said it sees overseas risks as significant, a change from October’s statement that they were increasing.
Australia reported stronger-than-expected November jobs numbers.
Australian employers added 39,900 jobs following a revised loss of 24,800 in October. Annual growth held steady at 2 percent over a year earlier.
On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with small losses that left them just below all-time highs.
The S&P 500 fell 1.38 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 3,191.14. The Dow dropped 27.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 28,239.28. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to a record 8,827.73.
Losses in banks, industrial stocks, household goods makers and technology companies helped pull the market lower. They offset gains in real estate, communication services, health care and elsewhere in the market.
The House vote to impeach Trump, which investors expected, appeared to have no impact on the market.
FedEx was the biggest loser in the S&P 500 after the package delivery giant cut its profit forecast for its fiscal year and reported weaker quarterly earnings than analysts expected. The company cited “weak global economic conditions” and higher expenses.
ENERGY: Benchmark US crude gained 1 cent to $60.86 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract declined 2 cents on Wednesday to close at $60.85. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 5 cents to $66.22 per barrel in London. It added 7 cents the previous session to $66.17.
CURRENCY: The dollar was little-changed at 109.58 yen. The euro gained to $1.1133 from $1.1114.
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