WORLD

Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, with China stocks down, after Wall St retreat

May 22, 2024, 12:01 AM | Updated: 9:50 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were trading mixed Thursday, as investor sentiment in Tokyo was boosted by news of soaring Nvidia earnings.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.1% to 39,054.81. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.5% to 7,807.10. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2% to 2,728.43. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 1.3% to 18,942.77, while the Shanghai Composite shed 1.0% to3,126.70.

Semiconductor related issues were boosted by news that Nvidia’s profit skyrocketed above forecasts, with quarterly net income climbing more than sevenfold from a year earlier to $14.88 billion. Revenue more than tripled for what’s become the iconic brand behind the recent artificial intelligence boom.

On Wall Street, indexes retreated from their records as concerns about high interest rates weighed on the market.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 5,307.01, a day after setting its latest all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 0.5% to 39,671.04, and the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.2% to 16,801.54 after after setting its latest record.

Indexes were close to flat early in the day, but slunk lower after the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its last policy meeting. They showed Fed officials suggesting it “would likely take longer than previously thought” to get inflation fully under control following disappointingly high readings early this year.

And even though Fed Chair Jerome Powell said after that meeting that the Federal Reserve is more likely to cut rates than to hike them, the minutes said “various participants” were willing to raise rates if inflation worsens. That cut at the rekindled hopes on Wall Street that the Fed will be able to cut its main interest rate at least once this year.

Lululemon Athletica sank 7.2% after it said its chief product officer, Sun Choe, is leaving the company this month to “pursue another opportunity.” The company announced a new organizational structure where it won’t replace the role of chief product officer.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.42% from 4.41% late Tuesday. The two-year yield, which moves more closely with expectations for the Fed, rose a bit more. It climbed to 4.87% from 4.84%.

Helping to keep the move in yields in check was the fact that the harsh talk in the minutes from the Fed’s latest meeting was from May 1. That was before some reports showed softening in inflation and certain parts of the U.S economy, which may have changed the minds of some Fed officials.

In recent speeches since that May 1 meeting, some Fed officials have indeed called those recent reports encouraging. But they have also said they still need to see months more of improving data before they could cut the federal funds rate, which is sitting at its highest level in more than 20 years.

The Fed is trying to pull off a tightrope walk where it slows the economy just enough through high interest rates to get inflation under control but not so much that it causes a bad recession.

High rates have made everything from credit-card bills to auto-loan payments more expensive. Mortgage rates are also high, and a report on Wednesday showed sales of previously occupied homes were weaker last month than economists expected.

Central banks around the world seem eager to cut interest rates, but “they may not go far” given how well economies are doing and how high inflation still is, according to Athanasios Vamvakidis, a strategist at Bank of America. He said in a BofA Global Research report that he expects only shallow cuts to interest rates, which may also come later than financial markets seem to be forecasting.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude fell 52 cents to $77.05 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 45 cents to $81.45 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 156.71 Japanese yen from 156.80 yen. The euro rose to $1.0831 from $1.0824.

___

AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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