SYDNEY, Australia - Stocks in Asia were mostly higher on Thursday, although there was continuing caution over events in the U.S.
Concern persists about the never-ending U.S. government shutdown and a stand-off between U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Events in South America soured too on Wednesday with Venezuela's National Assembly head appointing himself as interim president, which U.S. President Donald Trump backed with an immediate recognition. This brought about Venezuelan President Maduro's instant termination of diplomatic ties with the United States and an order that all embassy personnel leave the country in 72 hours.
With Brexit still on the boil, and U.S. China trade relations still strained, there is not much incentive for investors to buy stocks.
Above all, investors are wary theres a possibility that the economic slowdown will go on amid the uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade tension, Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Markit told Reuters Thomson on Thursday.
In such circumstances, the likelihood is becoming a little bigger that a situation remains where its hard to buy stocks and the yen is likely to strengthen.
Nonetheless in the U.S. and in Asia buying orders for stocks are still being filled.
At the close of trading on Thursday, the Australian All Ordinaries was ahead 21.80 points or 0.37% at 5,930.60.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 finished off 19.09 points or 0.09% at 20,574.63.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 112.78 points or 0.42% at 27,120.98.
The Shanghai Composite gained 10.61 points or 0.41% to 2,591.69.
The U.S. dollar remained unchanged versus the major currencies in Asian trading, although it gained a bit against the Australian dollar which dropped to 0.7105 by the Sydney close.
Elsewhere the euro was still trading around the 1.1388 level. The British pound was fixed at 1.3072, and the Japanese yen remained weak at 109.68.
The Swiss franc as unchanged from its New York close, last quoted at 0.9943.
The Canadian dollar was just a tad higher at 1.3346, but still essentially weak.
The New Zealand dollar was unchanged but hanging on to its gains of a day earlier to be changing hands at 0.6778.
Overnight on Wall Street, all the major U.S. stock indices closed in the black, although the biggest gainer was the Dow Jones index with IBM and Proctor & Gamble leading the way.
At the close of trading Wednesday the Dow Jones industrials were ahead 171.14 points or 0.70% at 24,575.60, helped by an 8.5% gain by IBM.
The Standard and Poor's 500 added 5.8 points or 0.22% to 2,638.70.
The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite rose 5.41 points or 0.08% to 7,025.77.