Asia stocks advance ahead of Trump speech, China congress

In this Jan. 12, 2017, photo, traders work on the Mizuho Americas trading floor in New York. Stocks are opening slightly lower on Wall Street, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, following 11 straight gains for the Dow Jones industrial average. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

HONG KONG — Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after another strong finish on Wall Street as investors awaited a speech by President Donald Trump to the U.S. Congress.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.7 percent to 19,242.12 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 percent to 2,091.22. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 23,899.76 and the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China was flat at 3,228.74. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.3 percent to 5,740.50.

BIG SPEECH: Investors are awaiting Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress, scheduled for Tuesday evening — or Wednesday morning in Asia. Investors are hoping he'll outline promised tax cuts, infrastructure spending and other business friendly policies. On Monday he told a group of governors, "We're going to start spending on infrastructure big." He also noted that his upcoming budget would include increasing defense spending by $54 billion while cutting domestic programs and foreign aid by the same amount.

INVESTOR INSIGHT: "There will be a few things that the market will hunt for in his address," said Jingyi Pan of IG in Singapore. "This includes tax, infrastructure and trade policies and the lack of details may not placate the increasingly impatient market. Should the details, or the lack of, disappoint the markets, the hunt for safe havens may pick up instead."

CHINA CONGRESS: China's national legislature and a parallel advisory body will begin meetings this week that will help signal the direction for the region's largest economy. Financial stability and sustainable growth are on the agenda.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks notched up another milestone day as the Dow Jones industrial average ended 0.1 percent higher at 20,837.44, marking the 12th consecutive time it set a record high. That makes it the longest winning streak for the 30-company average in 30 years. The S&P 500 also closed at a record high, gaining 0.1 percent to 2,369.73 while the Nasdaq composite index added 0.3 percent to 5,861.90.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 112.57 yen from Monday's 112.79 yen. The euro edged lower to $1.0586 from $1.0587.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 8 cents to $54.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents to close at $54.05 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 9 cents to $56.51 in London.

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