Asian shares mixed after Wall St barely misses bear market

Shares are mixed in Asia in cautious trading after Wall Street rumbled to the edge of a bear market on Friday

Via AP news wire
Monday 23 May 2022 04:20

Shares are mixed in Asia in cautious trading after Wall Street rumbled to the edge of a bear market on Friday.

Tokyo and Sydney were higher Monday while Hong Kong and Shanghai declined.

Investors were awaiting minutes from the latest policy setting meeting of the Federal Reserve and updates on consumer prices, due later this week.

On Friday the S&P 500 dipped more than 20% below its peak set early this year before buying late in the day gave it a tiny gain. It finished 18.7% below its record. That capped a seventh straight losing week, the longest since 2001, when the dot-com bubble was deflating.

Inflation and rising interest rates, the war in Ukraine, and China’s slowing economy are all punishing stocks and raising fears about a possible U.S. recession.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.5% to 26,868.02. President Joe Biden's visit to Japan and South Korea was due to result in the launching of a U.S. initiative on economic cooperation and security.

Called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the White House said it will help the United States and Asian economies work more closely on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protections and anticorruption efforts.

However, the details still need to be negotiated among member countries, making it unclear how the framework might help U.S. workers and businesses while also serving the interests of partner countries.

South Korea's Kospi was unchanged, at 2,639.58.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,154.70. Australia’s center-left opposition party on Saturday toppled the conservative government after almost a decade in power.

Anthony Albanese was sworn in as prime minister after his Labor party clinched its first electoral win since 2007. Labor has promised more financial assistance and a robust social safety net as Australia grapples with the highest inflation since 2001 and soaring housing prices.

But analysts said the policy stance of the newly elected administration was not significantly different from the incumbent government and major changes were not expected.

“Although it is possible that Labor will represent a slightly more fiscally supportive government than their predecessors, we don’t see many implications for financial markets from this election result," ING Economics economists said in a commentary.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 1.4% to 20,424.23 while the Shanghai Composite index declined 0.4% to 3,133.38.

On Friday, the S&P 500 finished the day up 0.57 points at 3,901.36. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up less than 0.1%, to 31,261.90. The Nasdaq composite trimmed a big loss to finish 0.3% lower, at 11,354.62.

Many big tech stocks, seen as some of the most vulnerable to rising interest rates, have already fallen much more than 20% this year. That includes a 37.2% tumble for Tesla and a 69.1% nosedive for Netflix.

It’s a sharp turnaround from the powerful run Wall Street enjoyed after emerging from its last bear market in early 2020, at the start of the pandemic.

With inflation at its highest level in four decades, the Fed has switched from keeping interest rates super-low to support markets and the economy and is raising rates and making other moves to tamp down inflation. The worry is it might go too far or too quickly.

Goldman Sachs economists recently put the probabilty of a U.S. recession in the next two years at 35%.

Inflation has been painfully high for months. But the market's worries swung higher after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent prices spiraling further at grocery stores and gasoline pumps, because the region is a major source of energy and grains.

Adding pressure onto stocks are signs corporate profits are slowing and finally may be suffering from inflation.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 47 cents to $110.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 39 cents to $110.28 on Friday.

Brent crude, used as the basis for pricing for international trading, advanced 67 cents to $113.22 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 127.29 Japanese yen from 127.87 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.0593 from $1.0564.

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