Stock market today: Asian shares mixed as Japan reports that its exports jumped in December

Jan 22, 2024, 11:56 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2024, 10:20 pm

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mixed on Wednesday after Japan reported its exports jumped nearly 10% in December, though shares in Tokyo fell nearly 1%.

Hong Kong advanced while Shanghai declined. U.S. futures were higher and oil prices edged lower.

Japan’s exports grew nearly 3% in 2023 while imports fell 7%, leaving a trade deficit of 9.2 trillion yen, preliminary customs data showed, a sharp drop from the 20.3 trillion yen deficit reported the year before.

But economists are forecasting that the revival in export growth will be short-lived.

“Looking ahead, we expect export growth to slow this year as pent-up foreign demand for Japanese goods eases,” Gabriel Ng of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1% to 36,171.84, on renewed speculation that the Bank of Japan is edging toward shifting away from its longstanding lax monetary policy and negative benchmark interest rate.

In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.4%, to 2,468.61.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.8% to 15,476.85, helped by gains in technology companies like e-commerce giant Alibaba, which surged 4.3%.

The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.2% to 2,766.79.

Enthusiasm over a report that China may be preparing major support measures for the markets appeared to have faded, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report, noting that “a sustained recovery in HSI or any other mainland stock market may require stronger conviction regarding a Chinese economic rebound.”

He described the markets’ reaction to the news as “somewhat skeptical and muted.”

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,520.90.

India’s Sensex gained 0.5% while the SET in Bangkok advanced 0.4%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 climbed to another record as earnings reporting season for big U.S. companies gathered pace.

The index rose 0.3% to 4,864.60. The Nasdaq composite also climbed, up 0.4% to 15,425.94. But the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.3%, a day after topping 38,000 for the first time. It finished at 37,905.45.

Procter & Gamble climbed 4.1% after posting stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

United Airlines flew 5.3% higher after it also reported stronger profit for the last three months of 2023 than analysts expected. It made more in revenue from customers in both basic economy and premium seats, though it warned it may lose money in the first three months of this year because of the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max 9 planes.

Earnings season is kicking into gear, and more than a dozen companies in the S&P 500 reported their latest quarterly results Tuesday morning. More than 50 are scheduled to follow up later this week, including Tesla and Intel.

Among Tuesday’s headliners was Verizon Communications, which rose 6.7% after beating analysts’ profit estimates. General Electric also topped expectations, but its stock slipped 1% after it gave a forecast for profit this quarter that fell short of analysts’ forecasts. Homebuilder D.R. Horton sank 9.2% after reporting weaker profit than expected.

Analysts have forecast companies in the S&P 500 will deliver weaker overall earnings per share than a year earlier, which would be the fourth such decline in the last five quarters, according to FactSet. But stocks have still rallied to records in anticipation that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates several times this year.

Such cuts can boost prices for investments while relaxing the pressure on the economy and financial system.

Treasury yields have already eased considerably since the autumn on expectations for coming rate cuts, though critics warn traders may have gone overboard again in forecasting how many cuts will come and how soon the Fed will begin.

In other trading Wednesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil slipped 10 cents to $74.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up 39 cents on Tuesday.

Brent crude, the international standard, fell 10 cents to $79.45 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 147.89 Japanese yen from 148.38 yen. The euro rose to $1.0865 from $1.0855.


AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.

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Stock market today: Asian shares mixed as Japan reports that its exports jumped in December