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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Stock market: Asian shares advance after modest gains on Wall St

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Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Friday after Wall Street benchmarks managed to close mostly higher.

Stocks advanced in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney in early trading. Shanghai was flat.

In China, a major Communist Party meeting ended Thursday with a resolution setting the stage for President Xi Jinping to remain top leader for life. The decision was expected.

Meanwhile, although the Chinese economy has been slowing after bouncing back from a pandemic downturn, the record US$139.1 billion spent by Chinese shoppers during this year’s annual Nov. 11 Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza suggested potential for resilient retail demand.

Shares in Chinese real estate developers have risen this week following news reports that regulators were considering easing curbs on borrowing that have fueled fears of possible defaults and depressed sales.

Regulators want to allow more flexible financing so developers can sell assets and pay down debt, according to Chinese news reports. The government has yet to announce any change in the curbs imposed as part of efforts to reduce debt that Chinese leaders worry is dangerously high.

Official data also show a rebound in mortgage lending in October, suggesting the Chinese central bank wants to ensure adequate financing for housing purchases, which is considered relatively safe, the business news magazine Caxin said, citing research by Citic Securities.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.2% to 25,302.94 while the Shanghai Composite index was unchanged at 3,532.57.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.1% to 29,589.43, while the Kospi in South Korea added 1.4% to 2,966.09. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9% to 7,447.80.

The latest round of mostly solid corporate earnings is winding down after helping the broader market rise for weeks and reach a series of records. Inflation concerns have been rattling investors throughout the week, however.

Recent data paint “a picture of an economy running hot and with widespread price pressures,” Craig Erlam of Oanda said in a report.

“The Fed may ultimately prove to be correct in its judgement that pressures will ease naturally over time as they’re broadly driven by temporary factors,” he said. “But how long can they afford to stand by and watch inflation dramatically overshoot their target? Are they really that confident in their assessment? The pressure is intensifying.”

The benchmark S&P 500 is on track for its first weekly loss in six weeks. On Thursday, it rose 0.1% to 4,629.27. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4% to 35,921.23, largely due to a steep drop in entertainment company Walt Disney, which slumped 7.1% after reporting slower subscriber gains at its streaming channel and weak fiscal fourth-quarter financial results.

The Nasdaq rose 0.5%, to 15,704.28.

Smaller-company stocks outpaced the broader market in a sign that investors were confident about economic growth. The Russell 2000 rose 0.8%.

Inflation concerns have pushed bond yields broadly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury stood at 1.57% as of early Thursday in Asia, up from 1.55% late Wednesday. Bond markets were closed Thursday for Veterans Day.

Companies have been warning that they are being squeezed by higher raw materials costs and supply chain problems. Consumers are already facing higher costs for essential items such as food, rent, autos and heating oil. Analysts worry they may cut spending on discretionary items to focus on essentials, which could then crimp the broader economic recovery.

Higher inflation raises expectations that the Federal Reserve and other central banks will raise short-term interest rates deployed during the pandemic to encourage lending and spending. The Fed already has begun to pare back bond purchases it makes to keep longer-term rates low.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 60 cents to $80.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 25 cents to $81.59 per barrel on Thursday.

Brent crude, the basis for international pricing, gave up 64 cents to $82.23 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 114.26 Japanese yen from 114.07 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1442 from $1.1451.


AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed.

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