WORLD

Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed. Japan’s central bank keeps its monetary policy unchanged

Dec 17, 2023, 8:29 PM

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Tuesday after a seven-week winning streak on Wall Street cooled.

U.S. futures were flat and oil prices edged higher.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.9% to 33,063.00 after the Bank of Japan kept its ultra-lax monetary policy unchanged, as expected. The dollar rose against the yen, climbing to 143.38 yen from 142.79.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney added 0.8% to 7,486.90, while South Korea’s Kospi was nearly unchanged, at 2,566.30.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.6% to 16,527.75 and the Shanghai Composite index fell less than 1 point to 2,930.18.

Bangkok’s SET also was little changed, while Taiwan’s Taiex fell 0.7%.

On Monday, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 4,740.56 and the Nasdaq composite picked up 0.6% to 14,904.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished essentially flat after most of a 0.2% gain faded by late afternoon, closing at 37,306.02.

Retailers and big technology companies were among the big gainers. Amazon.com rose 2.7% and Etsy climbed 4.7% for the biggest gain among S&P 500 stocks.

Chipmaker Nvidia rose 2.4%, while Meta added 2.9% and Netflix closed 3% higher.

Energy companies also rallied as the price of crude oil jumped more than $1 amid growing concerns about attacks from Iranian-backed Houthis on shipping in the Red Sea. Oil and natural gas giant BP has joined the growing list of companies that have halted shipments in the major trade route.

Valero Energy rose 2.6% and Marathon Petroleum added 2.3%.

U.S. Steel soared 26.1% after agreeing to be acquired by Japan’s Nippon Steel. The Pittsburgh steel maker played a key role in the nation’s industrialization. The all-cash deal is valued at about $14.1 billion, or $14.9 billion with debt. That’s nearly double what was offered just four months ago by rival Cleveland Cliffs.

Investors had several other corporate buyout updates to review. Photoshop maker Adobe rose 2.5% following an announcement that it is terminating its planned $20 billion buyout of Figma. Door maker Masonite International fell 16% after saying it will by PGT Innovations in a deal worth about $13 billion.

Treasury yields mostly rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.95% from 3.92% late Friday.

The broader market surged last week and added to solid December gains after the Federal Reserve signaled that inflation may have cooled enough for the central bank to shift to cutting interest rates in 2024. The Dow closed out last week with a record, while the S&P 500 ended the week with its longest weekly winning streak in six years, while edging closer to its all-time high.

The benchmark S&P 500 is now up more than 23% this year, while the Nasdaq is up more than 42%.

Lower interest rates typically take pressure off of financial markets. The Fed’s goal since 2022 has been to slow the economy and grind down prices for investments enough through high interest rates to get inflation under control. Economic growth has slowed, but has not dipped into recession, while inflation continues easing.

Wall Street is betting that those conditions mean the Fed is done raising interest rates and could start cutting them in early 2024. Investors will get their last big inflation update of the year on Friday when the government releases its report on personal consumption expenditures. It’s the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation and has been easing since the middle of 2022.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect the measure of inflation to soften to 2.8% in November from 3% in October.

Investors will also have a few big earnings reports to review this week, which could give them a better sense of how companies and consumers are faring amid high interest rates and lingering inflation. Package delivery service FedEx will report its latest financial results on Tuesday and Cheerios maker General Mills will report its results on Wednesday. Athletic footwear giant Nike will report its latest results on Thursday.

Early Tuesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil was down 1 cent at $72.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 11 cents at $78.08 per barrel.

The euro rose to $1.0929 from $1.0925 late Monday.

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AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

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