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Stock market today: Asian shares are mostly higher after Wall Street rally led by Microsoft gains

Nov 19, 2023, 9:22 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher on Tuesday after a rally on Wall Street led by gains in Microsoft following its announcement that it was hiring Sam Altman, former CEO of OpenAI, the ChatGPT maker.

U.S. futures were higher while oil prices fell.

Chinese markets were lifted by a report in the financial magazine Caixin that regulators have drafted a list of property developers who will be able to tap low-cost financing. The moves to facilitate more lending come as the real estate industry remains mired in a crisis brought on by a crackdown on excessive borrowing and worsened by a broad economic slowdown.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1% to 17,958.33, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.5% to 3,082.30.

“Hopes continue to build that China’s unabating and deepening property slump … will catch a break, if not stage a turnaround; in particular, as Beijing steps up stimulus efforts to backstop the downward spiral in the wider housing eco-system,” Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down nearly 0.1% to 33,362.07. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2% to 7,073.30 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.9% to 2,512.38.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained 0.7% to 4,547.38, coming off its third straight winning week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.6% to 33,151.04 and the Nasdaq composite climbed 1.1%, to 14,284.53.

Microsoft was the strongest force pushing the market higher, and it rose 2.1% after saying was hiring Sam Altman for a new venture following his sudden dismissal as CEO of OpenAI. Microsoft said it will also continue its partnership with OpenAI, as fervor around artificial-intelligence technology and the huge profits it’s expected to create wow Wall Street.

Stocks broadly drifted higher throughout the day before they took a turn upward in the afternoon when yields fell in the bond market following an auction of Treasurys. Easing Treasury yields have driven a strong rally for stocks in recent weeks.

This week is relatively light on reports that could sway the hopes on Wall Street that have underpinned that drop in Treasury yields.

Investors are convinced that inflation is cooling enough for the Federal Reserve to finally be done with its market-crunching hikes to interest rates. Traders also are moving up their expectations for when the Fed could actually begin cutting interest rates.

Despite Fed officials saying they may keep rates high for a while to ensure high inflation is definitively beaten, traders are thinking the first cut to rates could happen by early summer or maybe even by March. Cuts to rates tend to act like steroids for financial markets and offer oxygen across the financial system.

The Thanksgiving holiday means the U.S. government will release its weekly update on jobless claims on Wednesday instead of the usual Thursday. Other than that, the release of the minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting on Tuesday and preliminary reports on U.S. business activity on Friday are among the highlights.

That could make Nvidia’s upcoming profit report on Tuesday the week’s highest-profile event. Analysts expect it to say its earnings per share more than quintupled from a year earlier and that its revenue soared to nearly $16.2 billion from less than $6 billion.

Nvidia, which rose 2.3% on Monday, carries huge sway on the S&P 500 and other indexes because it’s the fifth-most valuable U.S. stock. Much of that rise has been because of excitement around AI, and Nvidia’s report could offer clues on how much all the talk about AI is translating into actual sales.

Best Buy, Deere, HP and Lowe’s also will give their latest quarterly updates this week.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is the centerpiece of the bond market, dipped to 4.40% from 4.44% late Friday. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for Fed action, slipped to 4.89% from 4.90% late Friday.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 30 cents to $77.53 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added $1.79 on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 28 cents to $82.04 per barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 147.51 Japanese yen from 148.37 yen. The euro cost $1.0961, up from $1.0941.

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AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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