Specialist Thomas McArdle works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, March 30, 2017. U.S. stock indexes edged higher in early trading Thursday as investors weighed the latest batch of company earnings, deal news and economic data. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Asian stocks higher after Wall Street gains

March 30, 2017 - 11:50 pm

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after Wall Street gained and Chinese factory activity improved.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 19,207.92 and the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.3 percent to 3,219.29. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.6 percent to 24,144.24 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was unchanged at 5,893.10. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta retreated while Taiwan and Manila gained.

WALL STREET: Stocks were boosted by gains for banks and other financial companies on rising bond yields, which result in higher rates on loans. That nudged the Nasdaq composite index to an all-time high. Energy companies also gained as crude oil prices rose. Utilities and other high-dividend stocks fell. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent to 20,728.49. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 0.3 percent to 2,368.06. The Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent to 5,914.34.

CHINESE MANUFACTURING: Manufacturing activity accelerated in March in what the government said is a sign economic growth is stabilizing. A purchasing managers' index released by the National Bureau of Statistics rose to 51.8 from February's 51.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. The sub-index for production rose to 54.2 from February's 53.7.

TRUMP WATCH: U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that his April 6-7 meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, "will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses." On Friday, Trump was due to sign orders for an official report on trade abuses by other governments and for authorities to step up collection of anti-dumping duties on imports. "A bad meeting with President Xi would raise the prospect of a trade war," said Tim Condon of ING in a report. "Unfortunately, his failure to close the deal on Obamacare dents confidence in Trump's ability to get to yes with President Xi."

US GDP: The Commerce Department raised its estimate for economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 2.1 percent from 1.9 percent. It said consumer spending increased more than expected. The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits dipped last week. The latest data follow positive reports on consumer confidence and housing this week.

OIL DEAL: ConocoPhillips agreed to sell most of its Canadian assets to Canada's Cenovus Energy in a deal valued at $13.2 billion. ConocoPhillips stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, climbing $4.05 to $50.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 112.06 yen from Thursday's 111.91 yen. The euro rose to $1.0681 from $1.0677.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 22 cents to $50.13 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 84 cents on Thursday to close at $50.35. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 29 cents to $52.84. It gained 59 cents the previous session to $53.13.

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