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Stock market today: Asian shares are mostly higher, tracking gains on Wall Street

Feb 6, 2024, 12:26 AM | Updated: 8:26 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday, tracking gains on Wall Street, although Tokyo’s benchmark slipped.

U.S. futures and oil prices advanced.

Stocks rose in Shanghai and the smaller market in Shenzhen after Chinese regulators issued another set of market-enhancing policies, while Hong Kong gave up early gains.

The upward momentum from Tuesday’s announcement that a state investment fund was stepping up purchases of exchange-traded funds appeared to have faded. A report that Chinese leader Xi Jinping was to meet with officials to discuss the markets remained unconfirmed, with no word on such a meeting.

Those developments had pushed Chinese shares, including those in Hong Kong, sharply higher on Tuesday. By midday Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.1% at 16,122.40, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.9% to 2,814.89.

Investors were selling technology and property shares that had climbed during the markets’ brief rally.

However the mostly small cap stocks traded in the southern Chinese market of Shenzhen were up 2.3%, and the CSI 1000, an index that tracks highly volatile “snowball derivatives” was up 6.1%.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7% to 35,889.14 despite gains for companies that have reported strong financial results, including Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. which rose 3.9%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8% in early trading to 7,642.50. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.7% to 2,620.71.

Wall Street drifted higher through a quiet Tuesday as the bond market calmed following some sharp swings.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% to 4,954.23, nearly returning to its all-time high set at the end of last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4% to 38,521.36, and the Nasdaq composite edged up 0.1%, to 15,609.00.

Stocks have been under some pressure recently as hints keep coming that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to cut interest rates as soon as traders had hoped. The economy has remained remarkably solid, even though the Fed has jacked up rates to slow it and inflation down. That has pushed some forecasts for the first easing of rates from March into the summer.

If easier interest rates in the short term won’t boost stock prices, the hope is that strong profits by companies will.

GE Healthcare Technologies was the day’s best performer in the S&P 500 and jumped 11.6% after reporting healthier profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

Palantir Technologies, one of the companies that’s been riding a frenzy on Wall Street around artificial intelligence technology, soared 30.8% after its results for the latest quarter roughly matched analysts’ expectations.

Streaming music and podcast platform Spotify climbed 3.9% after it reported stronger-than-expected growth in its subscriber base, even as revenue missed analysts’ targets.

Those gains helped to offset an 11.5% tumble for FMC, whose products help protect crops. The company’s profit and revenue fell short of analysts’ projections, in part because of drought conditions in Brazil.

With earnings season at about the midway point for the big companies in the S&P 500 index, there are still plenty of heavyweights reporting this week including CVS Health, The Walt Disney Co. and PepsiCo.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury relaxed following its slingshot ride higher in recent days. It eased to 4.09% from 4.17% late Monday.

While a delay in rate cuts hurts the stock market, particularly after very high expectations for cuts helped drive a lengthy rally, the strong economic data also carry an upside for investors. They should mean stronger profits for companies.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gained 19 cents to $73.50 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 13 cents to $78.72.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged down to 147.91 Japanese yen from 147.95 yen. The euro cost $1.0760, up from $1.0755.

___

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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