Stock market today: Asian markets retreat after data dash hopes that a US rate cut is imminent

Mar 14, 2024, 1:01 AM | Updated: 9:20 pm

BEIJING (AP) — Asian markets retreated Friday, with Hong Kong’s benchmark falling 2%, after a mixed batch of data on the U.S. economy dashed hopes that easier interest rates are coming soon.

Oil prices and U.S. futures fell.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% lower to 38,751.54, while the Kospi in South Korea sank 1.4% to 2,680.70.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 2% at 16,622.02 after reports said housing prices have continued to fall since February.

The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.2% to 3,032.84, while the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.9% to 7,646.70.

On Thursday, U.S. stocks slipped, with the S&P 500 falling 0.3% to 5,150.48, though it’s still close to its all-time high set Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.4% to 38,905.66, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.3% to 16,128.53.

The moves were more decisive in the bond market, where Treasury yields rose after a report showed inflation was a touch hotter at the wholesale level last month than economists expected. It’s the latest in a string of data on inflation that’s been worse than forecast, which has kept the door closed on earlier hopes that the Federal Reserve could start cutting interest rates at its meeting next week.

But other reports released Thursday also showed some softening in the economy, which kept alive hopes that the long-term trend for inflation remains downward.

The question hanging over Wall Street is how much the latest signals of potentially stubborn inflation will ultimately delay rate cuts. That in turn could damage the huge run U.S. stocks have been on since late October, rising in 16 of the last 19 weeks.

Fed officials will give their latest forecasts for where they see interest rates heading this year on Wednesday, following their latest policy meeting.

Among the data they’ll mull is a report from Thursday that said shoppers spent less at U.S. retailers last month than economists expected. Such data drags on the overall economy but could also remove upward pressure on inflation.

The government also said retail sales were weaker in January than earlier thought. Strong spending by U.S. households has been one of the linchpins keeping the economy out of a recession despite high interest rates.

A separate report said fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected. That’s good news for workers generally. But too much strength in the job market, which has remained remarkably resilient, could add upward pressure on inflation.

The mix of data sent the yield on the 10-year Treasury up to 4.28% from 4.19% late Wednesday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.69% from 4.63%.

On Wall Street, Dollar General swung sharply despite reporting stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than expected. Its stock fell 5.1% after being up more than 6% earlier.

Dollar General executives said inflation is pushing customers to make trade-offs in the aisles, away from non-essentials and name brands. A day earlier, rival Dollar Tree tumbled after reporting weaker-than-expected results and saying it would close hundreds of its Family Dollar stores.

Dick’s Sporting Goods jumped 15.5% after it reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than expected and increased its dividend.

Robinhood Markets gained 5.2% as near-record stock and crypto prices drove strong growth in trading activity among its customers last month.

U.S. Steel sank 6.4% after President Joe Biden came out in opposition of the planned sale of the company to Nippon Steel of Japan.

Nippon Steel announced in December that it planned to buy the Pittsburgh-based steel producer for $14.1 billion in cash, raising concerns about what the transaction could mean for unionized workers, supply chains and U.S. national security.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev trading in the United States slumped 5.5% after Altria said it was selling a portion of its stake in the maker of Budweiser.

Homebuilder Lennar sank 7.6% despite reporting stronger growth in profit than expected, as its revenue fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

In other trading early Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 12 cents to $81.14 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 15 cents to $85.27 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 148.39 Japanese yen from 148.32 yen. The euro fell to $1.0878 from $1.0884.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.


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