Asian Stocks Lower Friday

Seoul’s Kospi sank 0.3% to 2,139.11 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was off 2 points at 6,724.10. New Zealand gained while Taiwan and most Southeast Asian markets declined.

On Wall Street, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.3% to a record 3,085.18. It was up 0.7% at one point. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.7% to a record 27,674.80.

The Nasdaq composite finished just shy of its all-time high after rising 0.3% to 8,434.52.

Encouraging reports on the U.S. economy and corporate profits have helped drive stocks back to record heights. The job market is strong, and the Fed has cut interest rates three times.

That leaves the U.S.-Chinese trade war as the wild card for the global economy.

Trump announced a “Phase 1” agreement in October but the two sides still are negotiating the details. They have yet to announce progress on major disputes about China’s trade surplus and technology policy.

The two biggest global economies have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods. That has disrupted supply chains, threatening to chill worldwide economic growth.

Investors were encouraged when the Chinese Commerce Ministry said Thursday the two sides agreed to a “phased reduction” of punitive tariffs if the deal goes ahead. But enthusiasm was tempered by concern critics in the White House might oppose such a step.

A person who was briefed on the talks Thursday told The Associated Press there were still deliberations in the White House about how far to roll back the tariffs.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 24 cents to $56.91 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 80 cents on Thursday to close at $57.15. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 14 cents to $62.15 per barrel in London. It

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