Stock market today: Asian shares trade mixed after Wall Street dips amid dimming rate cut hopes

Asian shares are trading mixed as pessimism spreads among investors about any imminent interest rate cut in the U.S. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei finished little changed Thursday, inching down less than 0.1%

Yuri Kageyama
Thursday 18 January 2024 06:38 GMT
Financial Markets
Financial Markets (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Asian shares traded mixed Thursday as pessimism spread among investors about any imminent interest rate cut in the United States.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei was little changed, inching down less than 0.1% to finish at 35,466.17. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.6% to 7,346.50. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3% to 2,442.99. Hong Kong's Hang Seng reversed earlier losses and added 0.6% to 15,369.59, while the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.0% to 2,805.55.

Wall Street slipped following another signal that it may have gotten too optimistic about when the Federal Reserve will deliver the cuts to interest rates.

The S&P 500 fell 26.77 points, or 0.6%, to 4,739.21. It’s the second-straight stumble for the index after it closed out its 10th winning week in the last 11 near its all-time high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 94.45, or 0.3%, to 37,266.67, and the Nasdaq composite slumped 88.73, or 0.6%, to 14,855.62.

Rising yields in the bond market once again put downward pressure on stocks. Yields climbed after a report showed sales at U.S. retailers were stronger in December than economists expected.

While that’s good news for an economy that’s defied predictions for a recession, it could also keep upward pressure on inflation. That, in turn, could push the Federal Reserve to wait longer than traders expect to begin cutting interest rates after jacking them drastically higher over the past two years. Lower rates would relax the pressure on the economy and financial system, while also goosing prices for investments.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped immediately after the retail-sales report and climbed from 4.06% to 4.10% Wednesday. Higher yields can crimp profits for companies, while also making investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks.

Higher yields hurt all kinds of investments, and high-growth stocks tend to be some of the hardest hit. Drops of 2% for Tesla and 0.9% for Amazon were among the heaviest weights on the S&P 500. The smaller companies in the Russell 2000 index also slumped as much as 1.5% before paring their loss to 0.7%.

The yield on the two-year Treasury, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, also jumped. It climbed from 4.22% to 4.34% Wednesday as traders trimmed their expectations for the Fed’s first rate cut to arrive in March. Traders are now betting on a less than 60% probability of that, down from roughly 70% a month earlier, according to data from CME Group.

On Wednesday, the head of the European Central Bank warned in a speech about the risks of cutting interest rates, one of the main levers that set stock prices, too soon.

The other major factor is corporate profits, and several companies reported weaker results Wednesday than analysts expected, including U.S. Bancorp and Big 5 Sporting Goods. Spirit Airlines was under heavy pressure again and sank 22.5%. Its stock nearly halved the day before, after a U.S. judge blocked its purchase by JetBlue Airways out of fear that it would lead to higher airfares. JetBlue lost 8.7%.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 54 cents to $73.10 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 34 cents to $78.22 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 147.85 Japanese yen from 148.11 yen. The euro cost $1.0906, up from $1.0886.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed from New York. Yuri Kageyama is on X at

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