People stand next to an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong, Thursday, April 27, 2017. Share prices were mostly lower in Asia following U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal for tax cuts, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index down 0.2 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.3 percent lower. Traders were awaiting the release of a policy statement by the Bank of Japan, though no major changes were expected. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Asia stocks firm as markets mull Trump's tax plan

April 27, 2017 - 2:27 am

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday as investors assessed the scant details of President Donald Trump's U.S. tax overhaul. Japan's central bank kept its monetary policy unchanged and forecasted steady growth for Asia's No. 2 economy.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.2 percent to 19,251.87 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 2,210.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.4 percent to 24,666.29 and the Shanghai Composite index climbed 0.2 percent to 3,147.82. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2 percent to 5,921.50. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia were mixed.

TRUMP ON TAX: The White House unveiled the broad outlines of Trump's tax plan while leaving out many of the details. Officials said they hoped to slash corporate taxes to 15 percent from 35 percent, but specifics are still to be negotiated. Stocks have been lifted by investor anticipation of big tax cuts as well as Trump's vow to cut red tape for businesses. But based on the few specifics spelled out so far, most experts suggested the plan would add little to growth while swelling the budget deficit and potentially handing large windfalls to wealthier taxpayers.

QUOTEWORTHY: "As expected, the Trump administration rolled out the tax reform roadshow on Wednesday," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA. "Given the markets lofty expectations, traders are viewing it as little more than a road map, rather than the much ballyhooed 'big announcement,' because the statement did not provide any comprehensive details."

JAPAN OUTLOOK: The central bank forecast growth in the world's third-largest economy would remain steady over the next year as it keeps its ultra-lax monetary policy unchanged. The Bank of Japan said preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would support growth by spurring demand but warned of risks from geopolitical trends.

SOUTH KOREAN GROWTH: A recovery in exports helped the South Korean economy expanded at the fastest pace in a year, the country's central bank said. Asia's No. 4 economy beat forecasts by growing 2.7 percent in the first quarter, defying a backlash from Chinese consumers over deployment of a U.S. missile defense system.

SAMSUNG IN THE MONEY: The South Korean electronics giant posted its fattest quarterly profits in more than three years, boosted by stellar performance at its semiconductor division. The first-quarter earnings, which come after a tough period for the company, leaped 46 percent over the year-ago period.

TAKATA SHARES RESUME TRADING: Shares in troubled airbag and seatbelt maker Takata Corp. were suspended from trading early Thursday after the financial newspaper Nikkei reported the company was planning to file for bankruptcy protection. Takata's shares fell 19.5 percent after trading resumed following the company's release of a statement saying that while talks on its restructuring are progressing, no decisions have been made.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 2,387.45 after briefly climbing above its record closing level earlier in the day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 percent to 20,975.09 and the Nasdaq composite slipped less than 0.1 percent to 6,025.23.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 23 cents to $49.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents to settle at $49.62 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 22 cents to $52.19.

CURRENCIES: The euro slipped to $1.0898 from $1.0905 while the dollar rose to 111.26 yen from 111.07 yen late Wednesday.

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