Stock market today: Asian shares are mostly higher as S&P 500 nears the 5,000 level for the 1st time

Feb 8, 2024

BANGKOK (AP) — Share were mostly higher in Asia on Thursday after the S&P 500 neared the 5,000 level for the first time.

Hong Kong’s benchmark fell while Shanghai advanced after China replaced its top stock market regulator. Tokyo surged 2% on strong corporate earnings.

Beijing has been struggling to prop up what have been some of the world’s worst-performing markets this year. Late Wednesday, China’s top stock regulator was replaced by a former chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange as part of those efforts.

Wu Qing, also a former banker and ex-vice mayor of Shanghai, has been dubbed the “broker butcher,” analysts say, due to his record for cracking down on market abuses such as insider trading.

The announcement that Yi Huiman was being dismissed from his post as chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission came without any explanation. But the ruling Communist Party may have chosen him as a way of signaling its resolve to protect smaller investors who have taken a drubbing in the recent sell-offs.

Market observers have cited the lack of transparency surrounding how the markets are run as a factor undermining investor confidence.

On Thursday, the Shanghai Composite index gained 1.3% to 2,865.90 and the Shenzhen Components index in China’s smaller main market also added 1.3%. Markets in mainland China will be closed from Friday through next week for Lunar New Year holidays.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.2%, to 15,887.04 on heavy selling of technology companies, despite strong gains for property developers.

Market heavyweight and e-commerce giant Alibaba’s shares dropped 6.7% after the company announced a major share buyback and said it was giving up plans for share listing for two of its group companies.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 2.1% to 36,863.28 and the Kospi in Seoul was 0.4% higher, at 2,620.32.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.3% to 7,639.20.

Bangkok’s SET gave up 0.5% and the Sensex in India shed 0.7%.

On Wednesday, Wall Street rose to the edge of another record-breaking milestone as Ford Motor, Chipotle Mexican Grill and other big stocks climbed following their latest earnings reports.

The S&P 500 gained 0.8%, coming within a fraction of a point of the 5,000 level before ending the day at 4,995.06.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4% to 38,677.36, and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.9% to 15,756.64.

New York Community Bancorp went from an initial gain to a steep loss of 14% and back to a gain of 6.7%. The bank is still down by more than half since rattling investors across the industry last week with a surprise loss.

It has been hit by weakness in the commercial real estate market and also is burdened with challenges related to its acquisition of Signature Bank, which was one of the banks that collapsed in last year’s mini-crisis for the industry.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, Ford Motor climbed 6% following its better-than-expected results, while Enphase Energy soared 16.9% despite falling just shy of forecasts. Investors are hopeful that weakness in demand for the supplier of solar and battery systems is nearing a bottom.

Chipotle Mexican Grill rose 7.2% after reporting stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

CVS Health gained 3.1% after it likewise topped expectations for both profit and revenue in the final three months of 2023.

Such gains helped offset a 9.7% drop for VF Corp., the company behind Vans, The North Face and other brands. It reported weaker results than analysts expected.

Snap tumbled 34.6% after its fourth-quarter revenue fell short of analysts’ expectations. The company behind Snapchat also gave a tepid forecast for 2024 after saying on Monday that it was laying off 10% of its workforce.

In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 34 cents to $74.20 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 37 cents to $79.58 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 148.71 Japanese yen from 148.18 yen. The euro climbed to $1.0789 from $1.0774.

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