Asian shares fell in muted trading Monday ahead of the Thanksgiving holidays in the U.S., as gloom carried over from Friday's retreat on Wall Street. Japan reported its exports rose 14 % in October from a year earlier on strong demand from China and the U.S. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6% to 22,271.35. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2ercent to 5,946.60. South Korea's Kospi dipped nearly 0.2% to 2,529.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1% at 29,186.16, while the Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.2% to 3,341.96. Japan's trade surplus fell more than 40 % in October from a year earlier, despite strong growth in exports to China, the U.S. and the EU, as costs for imports of oil, gas and coal surged. Customs figures released Monday showed imports rose almost 19 % from the same month a year earlier in October to 6.41 trillion yen ($57 billion) while exports were up 14 % at 6.7 trillion yen ($59 billion). The resulting surplus of 285.4 billion yen ($2.54 billion) compared with a 481.2 billion yen surplus a year earlier.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.3 % to finish the week at 2,578.85, while the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 0.4 % to 23,358.24. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.2 % to 6,782.79 after it closed at a record high Thursday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller and more U.S.-focused stocks climbed 0.4 % to 1,492.82. Most of the companies on the New York Stock Exchange rose, but the S&P 500 finished slightly lower for the second week in a row after an eight-week winning streak. The U.S. Congress is due to vote on a $1.5 trillion measure to overhaul business and personal income taxes after Thanksgiving. The provision to repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have insurance has emerged as a major sticking point with those who say that issue should be dealt with separately from the push by President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans to overhaul the tax code. Market players are also watching for release later this week of the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for clues on what may happen with interest rates. The FOMC minutes are expected to reaffirm a December rate hike, but there are still questions on what might happen after that, into next year.
Benchmark U.S. crude added 6 cents to $56.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.36 a barrel on Friday, to $55.71 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 19 cents to $62.53 a barrel.