Stock market today: Asian shares are mixed, with most markets shut, after Wall St's 8th winning week

Asian shares are mixed, with most markets in the region closed for the Christmas holiday

Elaine Kurtenbach
Monday 25 December 2023 05:25 GMT

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Louise Thomas

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Asian shares were mixed on Monday after Wall Street capped its eighth straight winning week with a quiet finish following reports showing inflation on the way down and the economy potentially on the way up.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.2% to 33,225.45 and the Taiex in Taiwan gained 0.1%. Bangkok's SET was up 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 2,905.79.

Most markets in the region and beyond were closed for the Christmas holiday.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2% to sit less than 1% below its record set nearly two years ago, at 4,754.63. The Dow slipped less than 0.1% to 37,385.97, and the Nasdaq gained 0.2% to 14,992.97.

With its eight straight weekly gains, the S&P 500 is in the midst of its longest winning streak since 2017.

Wall Street’s focus was squarely on a suite of economic reports released Friday that led to some swings in Treasury yields.

The measure of inflation the Federal Reserve prefers to use slowed by more than economists expected, down to 2.6% in November from 2.9% a month earlier. It echoed other inflation reports for November released earlier in the month.

Spending by U.S. consumers unexpectedly rose during the month. While that’s a good sign for growth for an economy driven mainly by consumer spending, it could also indicate underlying pressure remains on inflation.

Other reports on Friday showed orders for durable manufactured goods strengthened more in November than expected, sales of new homes unexpectedly weakened and sentiment for U.S. consumers improved.

The Federal Reserve is walking a tightrope, trying to slow the economy enough through high interest rates to cool inflation, but not so much that it tips into a recession. A stronger-than-expected economy could complicate the balancing act.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 3.90% early Monday, roughly its same level from late Friday. It is still down comfortably from October, when it was above 5% and putting painful downward pressure on the stock market.

Falling yields have been a primary reason the stock market has charged roughly 15% higher since late October. Not only do they boost the economy by encouraging borrowing, they also relax the pressure on the financial system and goose prices for investments. They’ve been easing on hopes that inflation has cooled enough for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates through 2024.

Traders are largely betting the Federal Reserve will cut its main interest rate by at least 1.50 percentage points by the end of next year, according to data from CME Group. The federal funds rate is currently sitting within a range of 5.25% to 5.50% at its highest level in more than two decades.

In currency dealings, the U.S. dollar fell to 142.18 Japanese yen from 142.49 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1007 from $1.1019.

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