WORLD

Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, with China up after state fund says it will buy stocks

Feb 4, 2024, 9:41 PM | Updated: Feb 5, 2024, 9:44 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares are mixed in Asia, where Chinese markets advanced after a government investment fund said it would step up stock purchases.

But the gains in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong were much smaller than recent losses.

Oil prices rose and U.S. futures were mixed.

China’s Central Huijin Investment, a sovereign fund that owns China’s state-run banks and other big government controlled enterprises, promised to expand its purchases of stock index funds to help markets that have been sagging under heavy selling pressure from a property crisis and slowing economy.

The fund periodically steps up buying of shares in big state-owned banks and other companies to counter heavy selling pressure in the Chinese markets. On Monday, benchmarks in Shanghai and the smaller market in Shenzhen bounced between small gains and big losses, while share prices of state-run banks and other big companies rose.

By midday Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 3.3% at 16,026.94 in rally led by technology shares such as e-commerce giant Alibaba, which gained 7.4% and JD.com, which was up 6.3%.

The Shanghai Composite index was up 2.5% at 2,770.83.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3% to 36,244.27 and the Kospi in South Korea lost 0.7%, to 2,570.85.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6% to 7,578.90. In Bangkok, the SET gained 1%, while India’s Sensex edged 0.2% higher.

On Monday, stocks slipped on Wall Street as data showed the economy remains strong, which could delay interest rate cuts investors are counting on.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 4,942.81 from the all-time high set Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.7% to 38,380.12, and the Nasdaq composite edged down by 0.2%, to 15,597.68.

Earnings season is near its midpoint, and roughly half the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their latest results, including many of the market’s most influential. Estee Lauder jumped 12% after it reported better revenue and profit than analysts expected. McDonald’s, meanwhile, fell 3.7% despite reporting stronger profit than expected. Its revenue for the latest quarter fell just short of forecasts.

Boeing fell 1.3% after the discovery of another problem in some of its 737 fuselages that may delay deliveries of about 50 aircraft. It and McDonald’s were two of the biggest reasons the Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged the market.

Stocks broadly felt pressure from another jump for bond yields, which rose as traders absorbed a message that the Federal Reserve will not begin cutting its main interest rate as soon as they had hoped.

The Fed has yanked the federal funds rate to its highest level since 2001 to bring down high inflation. High rates intentionally slow the economy by making borrowing more expensive and hurting investment prices.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said again in an interview broadcast Sunday that the Fed may cut interest rates three times this year because inflation has been cooling. But he also indicated again in the interview on “60 Minutes” that the Fed is unlikely to begin in March, as many traders had earlier hoped.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 4.12% early Tuesday, down from 4.16% late Monday.

A report showed U.S. services industries are more robust than economists expected, led by health care and social assistance, according to the Institute for Supply Management

Such signals could lead the Fed to pause longer before cutting rates, because they could keep upward pressure on inflation.

But there’s also an upside for stocks from the U.S. economy’s blasting through worries about a possible recession. The economic strength should drive growth in profits for companies, which are the other lever that dictates where stock prices go over the long term.

In other trading Tuesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 14 cents to $72.92 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 16 cents at $78.15 per barrel.

The dollar fell to 148.47 Japanese yen from 148.68 yen. The euro rose to $1.0752 from $1.0743.

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Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, with China up after state fund says it will buy stocks