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Stock market today: Asian stocks mixed after tech shares pull Wall Street lower

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LA Post: Stock market today: Asian stocks mixed after tech shares pull Wall Street lower
AP
ZIMO ZHONG
February 20, 2024

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday after technology shares led Wall Street broadly lower on Tuesday, with investors waiting for chipmaker Nvidia's quarterly earnings report.

The report, which will come out later in the day, will put stock markets in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan on alert as these three regions contributed over 45% of Nvidia’s revenues in the third quarter.

U.S. futures fell while oil prices gained.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost nearly 0.2% to 38,300.00.

Japan’s exports rose by a remarkable 11.9% in January from a year earlier, driven by strong demand for chip-making machinery in China and solid gains in exports to the United States and Europe, according to data released Wednesday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 2.4% to 16,642.00, driven by gains in its Tech Index, which advanced 3.6%. The Shanghai Composite rose nearly 2.0% to 2,979.30.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.7% to 7,608.40 despite data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing the country’s wage index increased by 4.2% compared to the same period a year before, marking the highest recorded annual increase since early 2009.

South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.2% to 2,652.62.

On Tuesday Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.6% to 4,975.51. It is coming off only its second losing week in the last 16. The losses pushed the benchmark index further below the record it set last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%, to 38,563.80. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.9%, to 15,630.78.

Technology stocks, especially chip makers, were the biggest drag on the market. Nvidia slumped 4.4%. It's still the S&P 500’s biggest gainer so far this year, rising about 40%.

The market fell last week after several pieces of economic data signaled that inflation remains stubbornly high. That stalled a rally that began in late October, based on hopes inflation will cool enough to allow the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

“The narrative that drove us to these levels is very much being called into question,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

At this point, Wall Street is now looking for its first rate cut to come in June, months later than earlier anticipated. Investors have to wait until next week for another key update on inflation. That's when the government will release its monthly report on personal consumption and expenses, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation.

“The key question to answer now is whether inflation is bottoming out, and if it is, does it go sideways or back up,” Samana said.

Investors have a relatively light week of economic news. Data on home sales will be reported on Thursday. The housing market remains tight as demand for homes continues to outpace supply. Mortgage rates remain high, though they have been easing from their most recent peak in late October, when the average rate on a 30-year mortgage hit 7.79%.

More than 80% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their latest results. Analysts polled by FactSet expect overall earnings growth of about 3.3% for the fourth quarter and are forecast earnings growth of about 3.6% for the current quarter.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude added 13 cents to $77.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 15 cents to $82.49 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 150.09 Japanese yen from 150.01 yen. The euro cost $1.0814, up from $1.0807.

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