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Stock market today: Asian shares mostly rise after Wall Street rebound led by tech stocks

Asian shares are trading mostly higher, helped by optimism about technology shares following a Wall Street rally led by big tech stocks

Yuri Kageyama
Friday 02 February 2024 06:10 GMT
Japan Financial Markets
Japan Financial Markets (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Asian shares mostly rose Friday, helped by optimism about technology shares following a Wall Street rally led by big tech stocks.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.5% to 36,158.02. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.5% to 7,699.40. South Korea's Kospi surged 2.7% to 2,610.49 after the country reported strong export data.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.4%, to 15,498.71, while the Shanghai Composite index dropped 2.4% to 2,705.46.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks bounced back in a widespread rally following their worst day since September.

The S&P 500 gained 1.2% to recover three quarters of its sharp loss from the day before, closing at 4,906.19. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% to 38,519.84, while the Nasdaq composite leaped 1.3% to 15,361.64.

Microsoft climbed 1.6% a day after falling 2.7%. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, added 0.8% after tumbling 7.5% on Wednesday.

Big Tech stocks are Wall Street's most influential because they're the biggest, and they're facing high expectations after soaring much more than the rest of the market last year. Amazon, Apple and Meta Platforms reported their latest results after trading ended Thursday and faced similar pressure to deliver big numbers to justify their runs higher.

Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, surged after topping analysts' expectations for profit and revenue and saying it would start paying its shareholders a dividend.

Stocks broadly got a boost following a suite of reports suggesting the economy remains solid, while pressures on inflation may be easing. Such data could give the Federal Reserve more of the evidence it wants of a slowdown in inflation before it will deliver the cuts to interest rates that investors crave. A day earlier, stocks fell sharply after the Fed’s chair warned it doesn’t have enough such evidence

Merck climbed 4.6% after the pharmaceutical giant delivered stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Etsy jumped 9.1% after it added a partner from Elliott Investment Management to its board.

On the losing end of Wall Street, New York Community Bancorp fell another 11.1% after plunging 37.7% a day before, when it reported a loss for its latest quarter and cut its dividend to build its financial strength. The surprising report caused stocks of other regional banks to tumble, reviving uncomfortable memories of the banking crisis last year that led to the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and others.

New York Community Bancorp had acquired much of Signature, and analysts say much of its struggles are related to that. But its losses tied to commercial real estate are a reminder of challenges that the entire industry faces. The KBW Nasdaq Regional Bank index fell 2.3%, following Wednesday’s tumble of 6%.

Peloton Interactive dropped 24.3% after it gave a forecast for upcoming revenue that fell short of analysts’ expectations. That was despite its roughly matching forecasts for the latest quarter.

It sank after one report showed that slightly more workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected.

Data released later in the morning suggested the U.S. manufacturing industry is improving after struggling for more than a year under the weight of high interest rates, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Growth in new orders is helping to boost the industry, but it's potentially concerning that prices for raw materials increased in January following eight months of decreases.

Traders are increasingly betting the Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates in May, after pushing back expectations from March. Whenever it does begin, it would mark a sharp turnaround after the Fed hiked its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001 in hopes of getting inflation under control.

High interest rates intentionally slow the economy, and they undercut prices for investments.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 27 cents to $74.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 31 cents to $79.01 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was little changed at 146.45 Japanese yen, inching up from 146.43 yen. The euro cost $1.0883, up from $1.0874.

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