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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Asian Shares Fall After Mixed Post-Holiday Performance on Wall Street

Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday after a mixed session on Wall Street following a three-day holiday weekend.

Shares fell in Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Oil prices rose.

The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for China’s economic outlook, saying it expects the No. 2 economy to grow at a 5% annual pace this year.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.8% in afternoon trading to 38,533.42. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1.3% to 7,665.60. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.6% to 2,679.75. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 2.1% to 18,425.09, while the Shanghai Composite edged 0.2% lower to 3,102.04.

On Wall Street, most U.S. stocks fell in a quiet day of trading Tuesday after bond yields ticked higher.

Nearly three out of every four stocks fell within the S&P 500. But strength for a handful of highly influential Big Tech stocks helped the index hold up overall. It edged higher by 1.32 points, or less than 0.1%, to 5,306.04.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% to 38,852.86. The Nasdaq composite rode the strength of tech stocks to gain 0.6%, to 17,019.88 and added to its latest all-time high set on Friday.

Nvidia led the way and jumped 7% to bring its gain for the year so far to a whopping 130%. It’s still riding a wave created by its latest blowout profit report from last week, which calmed some of the worries that Wall Street’s frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology has inflated expectations and prices beyond reasonable levels.

U.S. Cellular climbed 12.2% after T-Mobile said it will buy nearly all of the company. The deal is valued at $4.4 billion and includes up to $2 billion in assumed debt. Shares of T-Mobile US added 0.8%.

GameStop jumped 25.2% after it said it raised $933.4 million in cash through a previously announced sale of stock. The company, whose stock price has often moved more on investors’ enthusiasm than any change to its profit prospects, said it could use the cash for acquisitions, investments or other general corporate purposes.

But the majority of stocks on Wall Street fell under the effects of a modest rise in Treasury yields. Higher yields can help make payments for everything from mortgages to credit cards more expensive, and they tend to put downward pressure on the economy.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 4.54% from 4.47% late Friday. It had been lower in the morning but began trimming its losses after a surprising report showed confidence among U.S. consumers is strengthening. Economists had been expecting it to show a drop in confidence.

Strong spending by U.S. consumers has been one of the main reasons the economy has managed to defy predictions of a recession, at least so far, but some cracks have begun to show. Lower-income households in particular have begun to buckle under the pressure of still-high inflation.

The Fed has been holding the federal funds rate at the highest level in more than two decades in hopes of grinding down on the economy and investment prices enough to get high inflation fully under control. If it leaves rates too high for too long, it could kneecap the job market and overall economy. But a premature cut to interest rates could allow inflation to reaccelerate and inflict even more pain on U.S. households.

This week has several reports that could sway the Fed’s thinking, beyond Tuesday’s on confidence among consumers.

The highlight likely arrives on Friday when the government releases its latest monthly report on spending by households and the incomes that they earned. It will also include the measure of inflation for April that the Federal Reserve prefers to use.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to $80.09 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 17 cents to $84.39 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 157.04 Japanese yen from 157.12 yen. The euro cost $1.0851, down from $1.0857.

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