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Stock market today: Asian shares mostly decline after Wall Street drifts to a mixed close

Associated Press - Wed Mar 13, 11:12PM CDT
Financial Markets New York

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares mostly declined Thursday in lackluster trading after U.S. stocks drifted to a mixed finish.

Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.2% in morning trading to 38,625.22. Nissan Motor Co. stock jumped 2.3% after an unconfirmed Japanese media report that the automaker behind the Leaf electric car was about to enter an agreement on EVs with domestic rival Honda Motor Co. Honda issues rose nearly 1.0%.

Nissan declined comment, while Honda did not respond to a request for comment.

Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 slipped nearly 0.2% to 7,716.50. South Korea's Kospi added 0.7% to 2,711.48. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4% to 17,010.59, while the Shanghai Composite stood virtually unchanged at 3,044.17.

“In a significant turn of events, there’s increasing speculation that the Bank of Japan might consider ending its negative interest rate policy in its upcoming meeting, spurred by substantial wage hikes by major Japanese firms,” says Anderson Alves at ActivTrades.

The Japanese central bank has a target of achieving 2% inflation. The Bank of Japan will hold a two-day monetary policy meeting next week.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 slipped 9.96 points, or 0.2%, from its all-time high set a day before to 5,165.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.83, or 0.1%, to 39,043.32 and pulled within 90 points of its record set last month. The Nasdaq composite dipped 87.87, or 0.5%, to 16,177.77.

The bond market was also relatively quiet, with Treasury yields ticking higher, while stock markets abroad were mixed after making mostly modest moves.

Oil prices have been on a general upswing so far this year, which has helped keep inflation a bit higher than economists expected. That higher inflation has in turn dashed Wall Street’s hopes that the Federal Reserve could start offering relief at its meeting next week by cutting interest rates.

But the expectation is still for the Fed to begin cutting rates in June, because the longer-term trend for inflation seems to remain downward. The Fed’s main interest rate is at its highest level since 2001, and reductions would release pressure on the economy and financial system. Stocks have already rallied in part on expectations for such cuts.

Their nearly nonstop run since late October, though, has raised criticism that it was overdone. The U.S. stock market was recently looking more expensive than it has in 99% of its history by a measure that looks at prices versus long-term earnings for companies, according to Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of investment company GMO.

The famed investor, who has a reputation for being cautious but also correctly predicted the popping of prior bubbles, says the long-run prospects for the broad United States market “look as poor as almost any other time in history.”

“The simple rule is you can’t get blood out of a stone,” he wrote in a recent report. “If you double the price of an asset, you halve its future return.”

On Wall Street, where the S&P 500 has jumped 44% since hitting a bottom in 2022, Dollar Tree tumbled 14.2% after reporting weaker results for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

Traffic increased at its stores, but it said customers bought less at each purchase than they did a year ago. The company also said it will close about 600 of its Family Dollar stores in the six months through early August.

On the winning side of Wall Street was Williams-Sonoma, which jumped 17.8% and increased its dividend 26%. Stocks of energy producers were also strong, benefiting from the rise in oil prices.

A majority of stocks in the S&P 500 ended up rising, but the index was weighed down by losses from some Big Tech behemoths and other influential members. Nvidia slipped 1.1% and was one of the strongest forces pulling the S&P 500 lower.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose from 4.15% late Tuesday to 4.18% on Wednesday. It helps set rates for mortgages and loans for all kinds of companies and other borrowers.

The two-year Treasury yield also climbed. It more closely follows expectations for the Fed, and it rose to 4.62% from 4.58% late Tuesday and from 4.20% at the start of February. It had earlier dropped on strong expectations for coming cuts to interest rates by the Fed.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 12 cents to $79.84 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 14 cents to $84.17 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 147.83 Japanese yen from 147.74 yen. The euro cost $1.0947, down from $1.0953.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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