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Stock market today: Asian stocks mixed in muted holiday trading as 2023 draws to a close

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LA Post: Stock market today: Asian stocks mixed in muted holiday trading as 2023 draws to a close
December 28, 2023
ELAINE KURTENBACH - AP

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed in muted trading on Friday, the last trading day of the year, with some regional markets logging solid gains in 2023 while many sagged.

U.S. futures and oil prices edged higher.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gave up 0.6% to 33,358.11. It is up nearly 30% in 2023, its best year in a decade as the Japanese central bank inches toward ending its longstanding ultra-lax monetary policy.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 0.5% at 16,966.77, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.3% to 2,964.68. The Shanghai index has lost about 4% this year and the Hang Seng is down nearly 15%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.4% to 7,582.20, having gained 6.2% for the year.

India's Sensex slipped 0.2% to 72,255.72. It has gained more than 18% this year, reaching new highs as investors bought heavily on expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates next year, giving the U.S. and other economies a boost after it managed to bring inflation down from a peak of over 9% in 2022.

Taiwan's Taiex was flat, but it is ending the year up more than 26%, powered by strong gains for semiconductor makers.

On Thursday, Wall Street was mostly quiet ahead of the final trading day of the year, though every major index is on track for weekly gains.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 4,783.35. It is on track for its ninth straight week of gains and is up more than 24% for the year. The two-month rally has also pushed the benchmark index closer to breaking its all-time high set in January of 2022.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%, to 37,710.10.

The Nasdaq composite fell less than 0.1%, to 15,095.14. It has far outpaced the broader market this year and is on track to close 2023 with a gain of more than 44%.

There are few economic indicators out of Washington this week. The latest weekly report on unemployment benefits showed that applications rose last week, but not enough to raise concerns about the labor market or broader economy. The overall jobs market has been strong throughout 2023 and has been a driving force for the economy.

The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate retreated for the ninth straight week to its lowest level since May, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Mortgage rates have been easing since late October, along with long-term Treasury yields.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 3.84% early Friday. It surpassed 5.00% in October, but has been generally falling since then.

Apple rose 0.2% after a federal court temporarily lifted a sales halt for two higher-end models of the Apple Watch that the International Trade Commission had imposed due to a patent dispute.

Technology and communication company stocks had some of the biggest gains. Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices rose 1.8%.

U.S. crude oil prices fell 3.2% and weighed down energy stocks. Hess fell 2.6%.

Early Friday, U.S. benchmark crude was up 36 cents at $72.13 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude advanced 45 cents to $77.60 per barrel.

Companies will soon wrap up their latest financial quarter and will start releasing those results in January. Overall, companies in the S&P 500 have notched relatively strong profit gains after stumbling during the first half of 2023. That has given Wall Street more hope the economy will remain strong in 2024.

The Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation fell to 2.6% in November from a peak of 7.1% in 2022. That has helped improve forecasts for companies worried about inflation squeezing consumers and raising costs.

Wall Street is betting that the Fed is done raising interest rates and will likely shift to rate cuts in the new year. The central bank has held rates steady since its meeting in July, and Wall Street expects it to start cutting rates as early as March.

In currency dealings Friday, the U.S. dollar rose to 141.43 Japanese yen from 141.41 yen. The euro climbed to $1.1070 from $1.1063.

____

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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