Asian markets mixed as US health bill delay raises doubts

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, file photo, the American flag flies above the Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stocks are treading water early Thursday, March 23, 2017, as investors wait for news about the fate of the Republican-backed health care bill, a centerpiece of President Donald Trump's business-friendly agenda of cuts to taxes and regulations and greater infrastructure spending. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
A man looks at an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, March 23, 2017. Shares were modestly higher Thursday in Asia after Wall Street steadied overnight. Investors are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Congress on health care legislation that is seen as a bellwether for the capacity of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver on campaign promises for tax and regulatory reform. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
A man walks past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, March 23, 2017. Shares were modestly higher Thursday in Asia after Wall Street steadied overnight. Investors are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Congress on health care legislation that is seen as a bellwether for the capacity of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver on campaign promises for tax and regulatory reform. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

HONG KONG — Asian stock markets are mixed Friday after a U.S. vote on a health care bill was delayed, raising doubts among investors over whether President Donald Trump can push through his business friendly agenda.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent to 19,253.63 as buying picked up following recent losses. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.4 percent to 2,164.96 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 24,293.67. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China crept up 0.1 percent to 3,252.71. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.0 percent to 5,764.50.

HEALTH BILL HOLDUP: The decision by House Republicans to put off the vote was weighing on markets. Party leaders postponed the vote on the American Health Care Act because of a lack of support, leading investors to wonder whether gaining passage of more complicated and divisive initiatives like Trump's tax cuts will be even harder. The vote will happen later Friday after Asian markets have closed.

ANALYST VIEW: "Markets are likely to remain on hold today as traders wait on the U.S. Congress to resolve its impasse on revision of the 'Obamacare' legislation," Ric Spooner of CMC Markets, said in a commentary, adding, "optimism may be tempered by the fact that the Senate remains a significant obstacle to Trump's health-care legislation even it is passed by Congress."

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.1 percent to 2,345.96. The Dow was steady at 20,656.58. The Nasdaq composite edged 0.1 percent lower to 5,817.69. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, gained 0.6 percent to 1,353.43.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil futures rose 9 cents to $47.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 34 cents to settle at $47.70 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 5 cents to $50.71 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.28 yen from 110.93 yen in late trading Thursday. The euro slid to $1.0762 from $1.0783.

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