WORLD

Stock market today: Asian shares mostly rise after Wall Street rally

Aug 23, 2023, 12:06 AM | Updated: 8:56 pm

Currency traders work near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left,...

Currency traders work near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Asian markets were trading mixed Wednesday ahead of Fed Chair Jerome Powell's highly anticipated speech later in the week. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares mostly rose Thursday after Wall Street rallied to its best day since June after pressures from the bond market relaxed a bit.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.4% in morning trading to 32,146.33. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4% to 7,178.10. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.0% to 2,531.45. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 1.1% to 18,041.53, while the Shanghai Composite slid 0.1% to 3,074.78.

A major event of the week for markets is a speech later in the day by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. He is speaking at a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, event that’s been the setting for major policy announcements by the Fed in the past.

The hope among traders has been that the Fed has already hiked rates for the final time this cycle and that it will begin cutting rates early next year. But such hopes have been diminishing with each stronger-than-expected report on the economy that’s come in recently.

“Shares in Asia appear set to make gains, taking cues from the positive momentum in U.S. markets,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 climbed 1.1% to trim its loss for what’s been a dismal August so far. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 184 points, or 0.5%, and the Nasdaq composite jumped 1.6%.

Big Tech stocks and others that benefit from easier interest rates led the way. They got some relief as the 10-year Treasury yield eased back further from its highest level since 2007 after a report suggested the U.S. economy may be cooling.

A 2.2% gain for Apple’s stock and 1.4% climb for Microsoft shares were two of the strongest forces pushing the S&P 500 upward.

Nvidia, another one of the market’s most influential stocks, rallied 3.2% ahead of its highly anticipated profit report. Expectations were immense for the report, which came out after trading ended for the day, and it still managed to blow past forecasts.

Nvidia stunned Wall Street three months ago by predicting a boom in artificial-intelligence technology would mean it would make roughly $11 billion in revenue during the three months through July.

The announcement set off a rush across Wall Street. Stocks of AI-related companies soared, and investors tried to count how many times a CEO could mention “AI” in an earnings call. Nvidia’s stock more than tripled this year so far, and it will need to meet the much higher expectations around it to justify its big move.

Nvidia’s report on Wednesday appeared to pass the bar. Its revenue for the latest quarter ended up more than doubling to $13.51 billion from year-earlier levels. And its forecast for revenue in the current quarter also blew past Wall Street’s expectations. Its stock rose in afterhours trading.

Nvidia and a just a handful of other companies were behind the majority of the S&P 500’s gains earlier this year. Many of those “Magnificent Seven” stocks also benefited from the AI frenzy.

They’ve been under more pressure recently, as yields crank higher in the bond market. When bonds are paying more in interest, investors feel less need to pay high prices for stocks and other investments that can swing sharply in price.

Treasury yields eased Wednesday, taking off some of that pressure. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 4.18% from 4.33% late Tuesday.

A preliminary reading of U.S. services and manufacturing businesses eased to a six-month low, sending yields down across the bond market. The measure of output from S&P Global Market Intelligence still indicated growth, but less as inflation and higher interest rates bite into activity.

“A near-stalling of business activity in August raises doubts over the strength of US economic growth in the third quarter,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

High rates work by slowing the entire economy and hurting prices for investments, and they’ve helped inflation to ease since its peak above 9% last summer. But a still-solid job market and spending by U.S. households threaten to make it difficult for inflation to come down the last percentage point to the Fed’s target of 2%.

All told, the S&P 500 gained 48.46 points to 4,436.01. The Dow rose 184.15 to 34,472.98, and the Nasdaq climbed 215.16 to 13,721.03.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 33 cents to $78.56 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard fell 28 cents to $82.93 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 145 Japanese yen from 144.79 yen. The euro cost $1.0864, little changed from $1.0865.

___

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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