WORLD

Stock market today: Asian stocks follow Wall St tumble. Most markets in the region close for holiday

Apr 29, 2024, 10:56 PM

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks fell Wednesday with most of the markets in the region closed for a holiday. Meanwhile, U.S. stocks closed out their worst month since September.

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

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8%, down to 38,089.09 in early trading after the country’s factory activity experienced a milder shrink in April, as the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index from au Jibun Bank rose to 49.6 in April from 48.2 in March. A PMI reading under 50 represents a contraction, and a reading of 50 indicates no change.

The yen continues to struggle. On Wednesday, the U.S. dollar rose to 157.89 Japanese yen from 157.74 yen.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1.2% to 7,574.20. Other markets in the region were closed due to the Labor Day holiday.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 tumbled 1.6% to cement its first losing month in the last six, and ended at 5,035.69. Its momentum slammed into reverse in April — falling as much as 5.5% at one point — after setting a record at the end of March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.5% to 37,815.92, and the Nasdaq composite lost 2% to 15,657.82.

Stocks began sinking as soon as trading began, after a report showed U.S. workers won bigger gains in wages and benefits than expected during the first three months of the year. While that’s good news for workers and the latest signal of a solid job market, it feeds into worries that upward pressure remains on inflation.

It followed a string of reports this year that have shown inflation remains stubbornly high. That’s caused traders to largely give up on hopes that the Federal Reserve will deliver multiple cuts to interest rates this year. And that in turn has sent Treasury yields jumping in the bond market, which has cranked up the pressure on stocks.

Tuesday’s losses for stocks accelerated at the end of the day as traders made their final moves before closing the books on April, and ahead of an announcement by the Federal Reserve on interest rates scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

No one expects the Federal Reserve to change its main interest rate at this meeting. But traders are anxious about what Fed Chair Jerome Powell may say about the rest of the year.

GE Healthcare Technologies tumbled 14.3% after it reported weaker results and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. F5 dropped 9.2% despite reporting a better profit than expected.

McDonald’s slipped 0.2% after its profit for the latest quarter came up just shy of analysts’ expectations. It was hurt by weakening sales trends at its franchised stores overseas, in part by boycotts from Muslim-majority markets over the company’s perceived support of Israel.

Helping to keep the market’s losses in check was 3M, which rose 4.7% after reporting stronger results and revenue than forecast. Eli Lilly climbed 6% after turning in a better profit than expected on strong sales of its Mounjaro and Zepbound drugs for diabetes and obesity. It also raised its forecasts for revenue and profit for the full year.

Stocks of cannabis companies also soared after The Associated Press reported the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less-dangerous drug in a historic shift. Cannabis producer Tilray Brands jumped 39.5%.

The earnings reporting season has largely been better than expected so far. Not only have the tech companies that dominate Wall Street done well, so have companies across a range of industries.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.67% from 4.61%.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 76 cents to $81.17 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 72 cents to $86.51 a barrel.

In currency trading, the euro cost $1.0658, down from $1.0663.

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Stock market today: Asian stocks follow Wall St tumble. Most markets in the region close for holiday