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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Stock market: Asian shares press higher after Wall St record

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Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after Wall Street hit a record and Japanese inflation eased.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney advanced. Hong Kong declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index advanced 0.3%, putting it on track for a weekly gain.

Investors are shifting focus from corporate earnings to the longer-term outlook for global economies and whether central banks might feel pressure to cool rising prices by rolling back stimulus faster than planned.

Inflation is “currently the main focal area for the markets,” Fawad Razaqzada of ThinkMarkets said in a report.

On Friday, Japan’s government reported October consumer inflation eased to 0.1% over a year earlier from the previous month’s 0.2%.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1% to 3,558.87 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.5% to 29,745.87. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 1.3% to 24,982.55.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.8% to 2,970.96 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.2% to 7,396.50.

Indian markets were closed for a holiday. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok declined while Jakarta gained.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 4,704.54 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2% to 35,870.95. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.5% to 15,993.71.

Nvidia Corp. jumped 8.3% after the maker of graphics chips for gaming and artificial intelligence reported strong results. Other chipmakers also gained ground. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rose 2.4% and Micron Technology Inc. rose 2.1%.

Macy’s Inc. surged 21.2% after the department store chain beat profit forecasts.

Two-thirds of companies in the S&P 500 fell. Gains by big technology companies and retailers offset losses in other sectors as investors sized up the latest corporate earnings.

Also Thursday, the Labor Department said that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for a seventh week to a pandemic low of 268,000.

U.S. stocks have risen since early October as companies reported stronger profits than expected.

Companies in the S&P 500 have reported overall earnings growth of 39%. That outpaces earlier forecasts in June for 23% growth for the quarter.

Companies face higher costs for raw materials and supply chain problems. Consumers have so far absorbed price hikes, but analysts fear they could eventually rein in spending if increases continue.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 72 cents to US$79.13 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used as the price basis for international oils, gained 79 cents to $82.03 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 114.33 yen from Thursday’s 114.27 yen. The euro declined to $1.1355 from $1.1370. 

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