Asian shares track Wall Street gains on robust US earnings

An investor walks in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
A visitor stands in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
A visitor stands in front of stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

SINGAPORE — Asian shares were mostly higher Thursday after strong earnings reports lifted indexes on Wall Street. But a report that the U.S. was investigating China's Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American companies limited gains.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent to 27,000.43 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,850.30.The Shanghai Composite index surged 0.5 percent to 2,582.19. Japan's Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 percent lower to 20,417.97 while South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,111.06. Shares rose in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia but fell in Singapore.

WALL STREET: Strong earnings reports by financial and investment companies like Goldman Sachs spurred gains Wednesday. But worries about U.S.-China relations put a drag on sentiment. The broad S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,616.10, after rising as much as 0.6 percent during the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.6 percent higher at 24,207.16 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.2 percent to 7,034.69. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks climbed 0.7 percent to 1,454.70.

US-CHINA TENSIONS: A Wall Street Journal report, citing people familiar with the matter, said federal prosecutors were investigating China's Huawei Technologies Ltd. for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American companies including T-Mobile. The report said the investigation resulted from several civil lawsuits against Huawei and an indictment could be issued soon. This revived worries over relations between the two countries as officials struggle to find a compromise ahead of the Mar. 1 end of a moratorium on raising tariffs against each other's exports. Negotiators from both countries recently held trade talks in Beijing and more high level negotiations are in the works.

ANALYST'S TAKE: Suggestions that the U.S. is investigating Huawei "raise questions about whether trade optimism is premature and crucially, whether more fundamental and strategic tensions between the U.S. and China induce a longer-term, slow-burn drag," Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank said in an interview.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 33 cents to $51.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 20 cents to settle at $52.31 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, dropped 31 cents to $61.01. It added 68 cents to $61.32 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 109.05 yen from 109.13 yen late Wednesday. The euro edged down to $1.1385 from $1.1394, while the British pound retreated to $1.2869 from $1.2885.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

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