Stock market today: Asian stocks lower after Wall Street holds steady near record highs

Feb 28, 2024



HONG KONG (AP) — Asian markets were mostly lower on Wednesday after U.S. stocks held near their record levels in a quiet day of trading.

U.S. futures and oil prices fell.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.3% lower to 39,173.50.

Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai sank after the territory’s financial chief announced a budget aimed at boosting tourism and the property industry. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 1.4% to 16,562.96, while the Shanghai Composite sank 1.9% to 2,957.85.

China’s largest private property developer, Country Garden, said Wednesday that it is facing a liquidation petition after failing to repay a term loan facility worth 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($204.5 million). The first hearing in the case is scheduled for May 17.

The move comes after China Evergrande, the world’s most heavily indebted real estate developer, was ordered to undergo liquidation following a failed effort to restructure $300 billion in late January.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was little changed at 7,660.40 after the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday the country’s inflation rate held at a two-year low in January, triggering hopes that the Reserve Bank may cut its benchmark interest rate.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 1% to 2,652.29, while Thailand’s SET was down 0.6%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 added 0.2%, to 5,078.18 and was just off its all-time high set last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.2%, to 38,972.41, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4% to 16,035.30.

Macy’s climbed 3.4% after reporting better results for the latest quarter than feared. It also announced a sweeping reorganization as it tries to kickstart growth in revenue.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings steamed 19.8% higher for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after saying it’s seeing healthy demand from customers.

AutoZone revved 6.7% higher after reporting a stronger profit than expected. Much of its growth last quarter came from its stores in Mexico and Brazil.

Zoom Video Communications climbed after topping analysts’ forecasts for profit last quarter. It also announced a program to buy back up to $1.5 billion of its stock, which would send cash directly to shareholders.

Those winners helped offset a 1.5% drop for Chevron, one of the main reasons for the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s slide. The company warned that its pending takeover of Hess may be under threat.

Cryptocurrency prices have also been running higher. Bitcoin rose above $57,000 before edging back below the threshold and is up by roughly a third so far this year already.

New exchange-traded funds that hold bitcoin have made investing in the cryptocurrency easier, while also driving business for Coinbase and others who safeguard those ETFs’ bitcoins. Coinbase rose 2.7% Tuesday to bring its gain for the year so far to 14.5%.

Earnings reporting season is winding down for the big companies in the S&P 500, and the hope is that a remarkably solid U.S. economy will help profits grow through this year.

A report in Tuesday morning showed orders for long-lasting manufactured goods were weaker last month than economists expected, but they were better than forecast after ignoring airplanes and other transportation items.

A separate report said that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly slipped. Confidence had been on the upswing, and it’s a closely followed figure on Wall Street because spending by consumers makes up the bulk of the U.S. economy.

On the upside for investors, the report also showed that expectations for inflation among U.S. consumers ticked down a bit.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 36 cents to $78.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 35 cents to $82.31 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 150.73 Japanese yen from 150.51 Japanese yen. The euro fell to $1.0821 from $1.0843.

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