NATIONAL NEWS

Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed ahead of the Fed’s decision on interest rates

Dec 11, 2023, 11:06 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2023, 8:26 pm

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed on Wednesday after Wall Street rose to its highest level since early 2022, slightly below its record high, following a report showing inflation in the United States is behaving pretty much as expected.

Benchmarks declined in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul but rose in Tokyo and Sydney. U.S. futures edged higher while oil prices slipped.

The Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” report measured business sentiment among major manufacturers at plus 12, up from plus 9 in October and plus 5 in June. The survey measures corporate sentiment by subtracting the number of companies saying business conditions are negative from those replying they are positive.

“The continued improvement in the ‘tankan’ suggests that the drop in Q3 GDP was just a blip, but we still expect GDP growth to slow sharply next year,” Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 32,985.19 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was up 0.4% at 7,263.30.

Shares in China declined on what analysts said was disappointment over a lack of major stimulus measures from a major economic planning conference that ended on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.7% to 16,252.67 and the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.5% at 2,989.15. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6% to 2,521.81.

Taiwan’s Taiex edged 0.1% higher and Bangkok’s SET lost0.5%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.5% to sit just 3.2% below its all-time high set at the start of 2022. It closed at 4,643.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5% to 36,577.94 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.7% to 14,533.40.

Big Tech stocks helped lead the way following solid gains for Nvidia, Meta Platforms and some other of Wall Street’s largest and most influential stocks. They overshadowed a 12.4% tumble for Oracle, whose revenue for the latest quarter fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

On Wall Street, Choice Hotels International fell 1.9% after it said it’s taking its buyout offer for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts directly to its rival’s shareholders. Choice already owns 1.5 million shares of Wyndham, whose board has cited concerns about value and regulatory approval while rebuffing Choice in the past.

Toymaker Hasbro slipped 1.1% after it announced additional job cuts as part of its cost-cutting program.

But Wall Street’s spotlight was on the inflation report, which showed U.S. consumers paid prices for gasoline, food and other living costs last month that were 3.1% higher overall than a year earlier. That was a slight deceleration from October’s 3.2% inflation and exactly in line with economists’ expectations.

The data likely changes nothing about what the Federal Reserve will do at its latest meeting on interest rates, which ends Wednesday. The widespread expectation is still for the Fed to keep its main interest rate steady.

The Fed has already yanked its main interest rate from virtually zero early last year to more than 5.25%, its highest level since 2001. It’s hoping to slow the economy and hurt investment prices by exactly the right amount: enough to stamp out high inflation but not so much that it causes a steep recession.

On the winning side of Wall Street, Icosavax soared 49.5% after AstraZeneca said it would buy the biopharmaceutical company for at least $838 million in cash, with the price tag rising if certain milestones are met.

Crude oil prices fell to take some more pressure off inflation. A barrel of benchmark U.S. crude gave up 20 cents to $68.41 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, it lost $2.71 to settle at $68.61.

It had been above $93 in September but has been coming down amid worries about demand from the global economy failing to keep up with available supplies.

Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 23 cents to $73.01 per barrel. It fell $2.79 on Tuesday to $73.24 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 145.60 Japanese yen from 145.45 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0788 from $1.0793.

___

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

National News

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Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed ahead of the Fed’s decision on interest rates