Asian stocks are mostly higher after Wall Street’s tech rally

BEIJING – Asian stocks mostly rose on Thursday as investors tried to gauge U.S. inflation, tensions between Russia and Ukraine and the impact of the pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 27,687.53 in afternoon trading. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3% to 7,288.50. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.1% to 2,772.18. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged down 0.2% to 24,788.82, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.2% to 3,474.80.

Wall Street will get another update Thursday on rising prices when the Labor Department releases its inflation report for January. Economists predict consumer prices rose 7.3%, a four-decade high.

“Equity futures are also looking positive for US and Asian equity markets at this time ahead of the January US CPI release tonight,” said Robert Carnell, Regional Research Manager, Asia Pacific. , at ING in a report, referring to the report on consumer prices expected later today.

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Japan has extended measures in Tokyo and some other places to curb coronavirus outbreaks for three weeks, until March 6, to try to control the spread of the omicron variant.

The restrictions, mainly requests for restaurants and bars to close early, were due to end on Sunday. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s decision follows requests from governors in areas where daily infection cases are overwhelming hospitals.

Although more than 80% of Japan’s population has received two injections of the COVID vaccine, only about 7% have received boosters.

Market players also have in mind how Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, prompting protests from the United States, Europe and other allies. Western countries say they will impose their toughest sanctions ever on Russian companies and individuals if Moscow invades Ukraine.

The British Foreign Minister flew to Moscow on Wednesday, seeking to defuse tensions over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and warning that an invasion would have “massive consequences for everyone involved”.

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Tech companies led a large rally on Wall Street. The S&P 500 rose 1.5% to 4,587.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.9% to 35,768.06 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 2.1% to 14,490.37.

Smaller company stocks also posted gains. The Russell 2000 rose 1.9% to 2,083.50.

More than 85% of S&P 500 stocks gained ground, with technology and communications stocks fueling much of the gains. Microsoft rose 2.2% and Google’s parent company Alphabet rose 1.6%.

Bond returns were mixed.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.92% on Thursday from 1.95%, the highest since the start of the pandemic.

Investors focus on corporate earnings reports as they try to gauge how Corporate America is coping with higher inflation and continued global supply chain disruptions.

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Of the roughly 60% of S&P 500 companies that reported results for the final three months of 2021, about 62% generated earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street forecasts, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Taco Bell owner Yum Brands rose 2.2% after posting strong fourth-quarter revenue. Freight transport company XPO Logistics rose 8.3% after also posting strong financial results.

The Walt Disney Co. and Uber increased after-hours trading after each reported results that beat Wall Street estimates.

Drugstore chain CVS fell 5.4% for the biggest drop in the S&P 500 after giving investors disheartening earnings forecasts.

“Earnings and sales have come up really well overall relative to expectations at the start of this quarter, so that’s a positive force in the market,” said Lisa Erickson, senior market strategist at US Bank Wealth Management. .

Twitter and Coca-Cola release their results on Thursday.

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An unexpected rise in prices in Thursday’s data release could signal a slowdown in inflation and support markets, although a larger rise would weigh on equities as it increases pressure on the Federal Reserve to move faster to raise interest rates to fight inflation.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 24 cents to $89.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 30 cents to $89.66 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 36 cents to $91.19 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar fell from 115.52 yen to 115.63 Japanese yen. The Euro traded at $1.1434, down from $1.1427 previously.

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