Stock market today: Asian shares slip, echoing Wall Street's retreat from its rally

Asian shares have fallen after Wall Street took a step back from its big rally as markets tried to digest a slew of earnings

Yuri Kageyama
Wednesday 02 August 2023 07:37 BST

Asian shares dipped Wednesday after Wall Street took a step back from its big rally as markets tried to digest a slew of earnings.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dove 2.1% in afternoon trading to 32,768.08. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.3% to 7,356.60. South Korea's Kospi slid 1.7% to 2,620.74. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 2.1% to 19,590.86, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.9% to 3,259.93.

Investor optimism was hurt by Fitch Ratings downgrading the United States government’s credit rating, citing rising debt at the federal, state, and local levels. The rating was cut Tuesday one notch to AA+ from AAA, the highest possible rating. In 2011, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.S. of its prize AAA rating.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the move by Fitch was based on outdated data, noting the U.S. economy has rapidly recovered from the pandemic recession.

“Some negativity was permeating across Asian equity markets mid-week thanks to Fitch downgrade news. Whilst not a game-changer, news that Fitch downgraded the U.S. credit rating by a notch was enough to put risk appetite on the back foot, as evidenced by the red numbers across the board,” said Tim Waterer, chief market analyst at KCM Trade.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 lost 12.23, or 0.3%, to 4,576.73, coming off its fifth-straight winning month. The Nasdaq composite sank 62.11, or 0.4%, to 14,283.91. The Dow Jones Industrial Average squeezed out a gain of 71.15 points, or 0.2%, to 35,630.68, even though most of the stocks within it weakened.

Travel-related stocks helped drag the market lower after they gave up some of their big gains from earlier in the year. Norwegian Cruise Line lost 12.1%. Expectations were high for it and rivals after its stock soared 80% for the year through Monday. JetBlue Airways sank 8.3% to roughly halve its nearly 20% gain for the year through July, despite reporting better profit than expected for the latest quarter. It cut its forecast for results for the full year, partly because of the cancellation of a partnership with American Airlines.

While inflation has indeed come down since the summer and the economy has remained remarkably resilient, critics say it’s no guarantee inflation will continue to cool at the same rate. They say stock prices have risen too far, too quickly.

Most companies so far this reporting season have beaten forecasts, but that’s usually the case. And expectations were low coming into this season, with analysts calling for the worst decline in S&P 500 earnings per share in three years.

Among the winners Tuesday on Wall Street was Caterpillar. It rose 8.9% after blowing past analysts’ forecasts for earnings during the spring. It was the stock pushing up the most on the Dow, where Caterpillar can have more of an impact than on the S&P 500 because of its big stock price.

Reports on the economy Tuesday came in mixed. The number of job openings advertised across the country dipped slightly in June, when economists were expecting a rise. But the job market broadly remains solid, propping up the rest of the economy and keeping it out of a recession so far.

Amazon and Apple are scheduled to report on Thursday, and because they're two of the biggest stocks by market value, their movements pack more punch on the S&P 500 than other companies. Both have also soared this year, along with other Big Tech stocks.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 87 cents to $82.24 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, also gained 87 cents, to $85.78 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched up to 142.85 Japanese yen from 142.83 yen. The euro cost $1.0996, up from $1.0982.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed from New York.

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