WORLD

Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, led by gains in Chinese markets following policy moves

Jan 23, 2024, 11:20 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2024, 8:00 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher on Thursday, with Chinese stocks extending gains after Beijing announced a raft of policies to support sagging markets.

Hong Kong rose 1.4% and Shanghai surged 2%. Benchmarks fell in Tokyo and Seoul. U.S. futures were mixed and oil prices advanced.

Late Wednesday, the Chinese central bank announced a set of rules to govern lending to property developers. Earlier, it said it would cut bank reserve requirements to put about 1 trillion yuan ($141 billion) into the economy.

The Chinese economy has slowed, with growth forecast below 5% this year, its lowest level since 1990 excluding the years of the COVID-19 pandemic. A debt crisis in the real estate industry has compounded other longer-term problems.

Shares in Chinese property developers jumped Thursday, with China Evergrande Holdings up 1.5% and Country Garden gaining 4.4%.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 1.4% to 16,125.43, while the Shanghai Composite index was up 2.1%, at 2,878.83.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3% to 36,134.82.

Speculation has been growing about the Bank of Japan ending its negative rate policy later this year, and investors are bracing for what that might mean for the nation’s inflation, as well as its currency.

South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,459.97, after the nation’s central bank reported the economy grew at a better-than-expected quarterly rate of 0.6% in the last quarter of 2023.

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.1% to 7,526.90.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 added 0.1% to 4,868.55, setting a record for a fourth straight day. Gains for tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq composite up 0.4% to 15,481.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, to 37,806.39.

On Wall Street, Netflix leaped 10.7% after it said it added many more subscribers during the last three months of 2023 than analysts expected. That took precedence for investors over the company’s profit, which fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

Also helping to bolster tech stocks was ASML, the Dutch company that’s a major supplier to the semiconductor industry. It reported stronger profit and revenue than analysts expected, and its U.S.-listed stock jumped 8.9%.

Microsoft climbed 0.9% amid a furor around artificial-intelligence technology that’s vaulted it and other Big Tech stocks higher. Because it’s one of the largest stocks on Wall Street, its movements carry more weight on the S&P 500 and other indexes than smaller stocks.

It helped overshadow drops for the majority of stocks within the S&P 500, including a 3% fall for AT&T, following earnings reports that fell short of expectations.

Stocks have broadly rocketed to records recently on hopes that cooling inflation will convince the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates several times this year. Treasury yields have already come down considerably on such expectations, which can relax the pressure on the economy and financial system.

The latest signal of economic strength arrived Wednesday morning, when a preliminary report suggested growth in output for businesses accelerated to a seven-month high. Perhaps more importantly for Fed officials, the flash report from S&P Global also said that prices charged by businesses rose at the slowest rate since May 2020.

Treasury yields in the bond market erased earlier losses following the report. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.17% from 4.14% late Tuesday. The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, held at 4.38% after dropping as low as 4.26% shortly before the report.

Economic reports coming later in the week could further sway expectations for rate cuts this year. On Thursday, the government will give its first estimate for how quickly the economy grew during the end of 2023. A day later, it will give the latest monthly update on the measure of inflation that the Federal Reserve prefers to use.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 31 cents to $75.40 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 27 cents to $79.90 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 147.65 Japanese yen from 147.51 yen. The euro cost $1.0880, down from $1.0884.

___

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, led by gains in Chinese markets following policy moves