While Asian stock markets were trading mixed on Friday (24 March), the Shanghai Composite was down 0.14% at 3,244.09 as of 5.13 am GMT following a delay in the US healthcare vote.
On Thursday, the US House was expected to vote on Speaker Paul Ryan's healthcare plan, a replacement for the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which is often referred to as Obamacare. The vote was postponed after negotiations with members of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus stalled. The vote is now expected later in the day.
Investors are said to be cautious ahead of the vote which is seen as a test of President Donald Trump's ability to push through reforms. Market participants reportedly believe that further delay in repealing the ACA could lead to pushing back fulfilling Trump's promises such as tax reform, deregulation and government spending.
"The [equity market] has arguably been long on optimism and short on substance for some time now. The vote on the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare seems to be being interpreted by the market as a touchstone for whether the thrust of Trump's fiscal plans are going to be realised and hence whether a continuation of the reflation trade is warranted," ANZ bank was cited by MarketWatch as commenting.
Indices in the region were trading as follows at 5.32am GMT:
|Hong Kong||Hang Seng Index||24,271.92||Down||0.23%|
On 23 March, the FTSE 100 closed 0.22% higher at 7,340.71 while the S&P 500 index closed 0.11% lower at 2,345.96.
Among commodities, oil prices gained ahead of Sunday's meeting between Opec and non-Opec members. The meeting will review the compliance of these nations with the earlier agreed six-month output curb. As of 1.24 am EDT, WTI crude oil was up 0.44% at $47.91 (£38.38) a barrel, while Brent crude was trading 0.32% higher at $50.72 a barrel.