Asian stocks fall as traders mull Trump inquiry

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Asian stocks fell Friday as traders weighed data showing slower US economic growth and the possible impact of an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

The congressional inquiry into Trump is throwing more volatility into a market that already was nervous over US-Chinese trade tension.

“The impeachment of Trump will now become a drawn-out saga that feels like annoying supermarket music,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

Also Thursday, the Commerce Department reported the US economy grew at a modest 2 percent in the second quarter, sharply lower than the past year’s 3 percent-plus growth rates.

The Shanghai Composite Index was off 1 point at 2,928.97 on the final day of trading before Chinese markets close for a weeklong holiday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.4 percent to 21,744.87 ahead of an October 1 hike in Japan’s sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.3 percent to 25,963.28 and Seoul’s Kospi dropped 1.3 percent to 2,046.51.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent to 6,704.80 and India’s Sensex gave up 0.1 percent to 38,935.50. Markets in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia retreated.

Traders were encouraged by a Chinese Commerce Ministry announcement that importers had agreed to buy US soybeans as the two sides make conciliatory gestures ahead of trade talks. That followed an earlier decision to list punitive tariffs on soybeans, the biggest Chinese import from the United States.

Plans to go ahead with negotiations next month have helped to ease market jitters, but there has been no sign of progress toward resolving the bruising tariff war over trade and technology.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.2 percent to 2,977.62 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.3 percent to 26,891.12. The Nasdaq dropped 0.6 percent to 8,030.66.

While many analysts say the Trump probe isn’t likely to affect the market significantly, it does add a degree of uncertainty and could complicate the White House’s efforts to resolve trade disputes with China and other nations.

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