Stock market today: Asian shares meander after S&P 500 sets another record

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed on Thursday after U.S. stocks broke out of a three-day lull to close at a record.

Oil prices advanced, while U.S. futures edged lower.

The dollar remained strong against the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, a trend that has unsettled regulators in both Tokyo and Beijing.

The dollar rose to 151.37 yen from 151.30 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0822 from $1.0828.

On Wednesday, the yen dipped to its lowest level since 1990, and Japanese officials reiterated their desire for stability in exchange rates.

“As the yen continues to show vulnerability, market participants will be vigilant for any hints of possible intervention in the currency market by Japanese policymakers,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a commentary.

The dollar bought 7.2286 yuan. It also has weakened against the dollar in recent weeks.

“We continue to think that policymakers in China and Japan will do enough to keep their currencies from weakening much further, but the risk of a break lower in one, or both, is increasing,” Jonas Goltermann of Capital Economics said in a report.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 lost 1.2% to 40,283.44. The Kospi in Seoul also fell, edging 0.1% lower to 2,751.22.

Chinese markets recouped losses from the day before. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 1.1% to 16,579.99, while the Shanghai Composite advanced 1.2% to 3,029.01.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 0.9% to 7,887.00. Taiwan's Taiex was little changed.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.9% to a record 5,248.49 in its first gain since setting its last all-time high on March 21.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 1.2% to 39,760.08, and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.5% to 16,399.52. Both finished a bit shy of their own records.

Merck climbed 5% after federal regulators approved its treatment for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare disease where blood vessels in the lungs thicken and narrow.

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group rose another 14.2%. The company behind the money-losing Truth Social platform has zoomed well beyond what critics say is rational, as fans of former president Donald Trump keep pushing it higher.

Robinhood Markets climbed 3.7% after unveiling its first credit card, which is reserved for its subscription-paying Gold members, along with other new products.

On the losing end of Wall Street was Nvidia, which slumped to a second straight loss after rocketing 91% higher for the year so far, loosing 2.5%.

GameStop tumbled 15% after delivering a profit for the latest quarter and a drop in revenue from the prior year. It’s the original meme stock, predating Trump Media by years.

This week’s highlight for markets may arrive Friday, when the U.S. government releases the latest monthly update on spending by U.S. consumers. It will include the measure of inflation that the Federal Reserve prefers to use as it sets interest rates.

Both the U.S. bond and stock markets will be closed for Good Friday. That could cause some anticipatory trades to bunch up on Thursday, the last trading day of the year's first quarter.

The S&P 500 is on track for a fifth straight winning month and has been roaring higher since late October. The U.S. economy has remained remarkably resilient despite high interest rates meant to get inflation under control. Plus, the Federal Reserve looks set to start lowering interest rates this year because inflation has cooled from its peak.

But critics say a broader range of companies will need to deliver strong profit growth to justify the big moves in prices. Progress on bringing inflation down has also become bumpier recently, with reports this year coming in hotter than expected.

Still, the broad expectation among traders is for the Federal Reserve to begin cutting its main interest rate in June.

Stocks generally tend to do the best when more than half the world's central banks are easing interest rates, according to Ned Davis Research. The world is not there yet, but several central banks have already begun cutting recently, like Switzerland's, and it could happen later this year.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 38 cents to $81.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, added 33 cents to $85.74 per barrel.

03/28/2024 04:46 -0400

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